Families come in all shapes and sizes, and there is no one single path to becoming a family. Sometimes families are born. But sometimes, they are made.
In a wedding photoshoot that has gone viral with over 73,000 shares on Facebook, Tyler, Rebekah, and 9-year-old Jude give a powerful testament to what “family” means. And they are proof that LOVE really is all you need.
Grab the tissues. You’re going to need them.
Tyler and Rebekah first met through the dating app, Hinge (all you single people, take note), in September 2019. After finding out that Tyler had an 8-year-old son, Rebekah admits that she was apprehensive.
She tells Filter Free Parents:
“I had just told my mom the month or so prior that I could never date someone with a child unless I REALLY loved the guy because I knew that it would be super hard.”
Turns out she really loved the guy. 3 months later, on December 21, they were engaged. And on June 26, 2020, in the middle of a global pandemic, they got married.
But Rebekah didn’t just become a wife that day. She also became a bonus mom.
And she decided to start her journey as Jude’s stepmom in the best way possible. With a ring engraved with the words “Forever family.”
“I knew I wanted to give him something special on our wedding day because he was so excited that we were all getting married. It wasn’t just about me and his dad. But I was having a hard time finding something online that I didn’t feel was cheese, tacky, or overdone.”
She goes on to tell us:
“I remembered that he mentioned wanting a ring so I figured that would be most special to him, and hopefully, be something he could look back on when he’s older.”
Rebekah gave Jude the ring just prior to the ceremony. And lucky for us, the moment was captured through the lens of a camera.
After a first look with her dad and then Tyler, Tyler brought Jude into the room, covering his eyes with his hands so he couldn’t see Rebekah.
Rebekah tells us about the moment Jude opened his eyes to see her:
When Jude saw me for the first time you could see every single emotion he was experiencing all over that precious face of his. He’s naturally an expressive kid so I figured it would be a beautiful moment, but I didn’t expect him to be THIS moved. When he cried, I cried. It was beautiful.
And now we’re ALL crying.
However, this was just the beginning. The best was yet to come.
When it comes to family we don’t always get to choose, like that batshit crazy cousin we all have hiding in our family closet.
But sometimes, we do get to choose. And when we get to look another person in the eyes, and say, “I choose you,” there’s something to be said about the power of that kind of love.
And it is exactly that special love that is mirrored on the face of one little 9-year-old boy. See for yourself.
That Rebekah took the time to create this heartwarming moment for her soon-to-be stepson so he would feel included in the next step for their family is amazing.
It’s no surprise that the photos have gone viral since the Seabolt’s wedding venue, The Engine Room, posted them to social media on Thursday. Rebekah tells us that the response has been overwhelming. “I knew these pictures were special, but I didn’t realize how special they would be to people around the world.”
Being a parent isn’t easy. But being a step-parent is on a whole other level of hard.
It’s a delicate balancing act between loving and leaning in but knowing when it’s time to lean out.
I was 9-years-old when my mom married my stepdad. He stepped into the role and never looked back. He didn’t have to love me, but he chose to love me. And he loved me even in the hard. All the times when I yelled, “you’re not my real dad!” All the times I failed to see his love for what it was, a precious gift.
As for words of advice to other step-parents just starting out? Rebekah says:
“Goodness, I don’t feel like I’ve been part of the step-parenting game long enough to give advice to others. However, I will say that what has been most important to me so far as I adjust to this new normal, is to stay super connected with my husband and make sure we’re on the same page with everything related to parenting Jude.”
As a woman with anxiety and a new stepson that is hyperactive and impulsive, her new role has its challenges.
In an Instagram post on her photographer’s page, Ashah Photography, Rebekah shares:
“Becoming a step-parent is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. These pictures highlight one of our best days together as a family, but reality involves a lot more mess, stress, and learning curves… especially for me as I adjust to joining an instant-family during a global pandemic.”
She also tells Filter Free Parents that step-parenting involves a lot of love with a heaping dose of grace.
It’s also important to give yourself grace in the moments you feel like you’ve failed as a parent…I have to remind myself that there is a lot of adjustment going on for him as well and it’s going to take time and a lot of patience as we move forward as a family.”
But the hard? Is worth it. Because in all of your moments, your best and especially your worst, there isn’t anyone that will love you quite like family. No matter how you got there.
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More on the Seabolt family…? “Throughout our engagement, Tyler’s son asked us several times “do I get a ring too?”, so when I was thinking of how I could make him feel special and included on our day, I knew exactly what I needed to do. I browsed through Etsy for the smallest “rose gold” band I could find and had “Forever Family” engraved on it along with our wedding date. I knew the perfect time to give it to him would be during our first look before the ceremony. Right after he saw me for the first time I explained to him what I got for him and he was so excited to have a “rose gold” band like his daddy and me. He proudly showed that ring to EVERYONE! (Even though he’s since lost it twice and it was squashed by a car in the road ? #parenting, right?) Becoming a step-parent is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. These pictures highlight one of our best days together as a family, but reality involves a lot more mess, stress, and learning curves… especially for me as I adjust to joining an instant-family during a global pandemic. Even though it’s hard, I am incredibly grateful, honored, and humbled to be on this journey with my boys and look forward to the years ahead of making memories and going through life together. ??” – Rebekah Seabolt