An Open Letter to My Step Mother

PhDDear Sheila,

Do you remember when you used to get up at 5:30am to curl my hair before I went to school?  I was twelve, maybe thirteen and it took a long time because I had long thick hair. 

I think of that often – especially now when I wake up equally early to straighten my own hair.

I think I may have taken that for granted back then.  But I certainly don’t now because I know how much work it is to straighten my hair (let alone curl it).

Back then, I took you for granted.  I took all the things you did for granted. 

But today, what I won’t take for granted is how hard you worked to accomplish what you are accomplishing at this moment.

So many women would have let the opportunity pass them by, because it is so much work and so much time and there are so many other people and things that need your attention.

But you chose to be a full time wife, a full time mother, a full time step mother, a full time grandmother, a full time professional and a full time PhD student.

And today we get to call you Dr. Sheila or Dr. Grandma, or yes, even as my brother will call you – Dr. Momma Bear. 

People asked why? Why now? Why as a mother? Why as a professional? And you answered with your actions because I can.

And you did.  Without ever missing a beat as a mother, a grandmother or a wife. 

Never missing the making of a Halloween costume, a dance recital or a late-night pick-up from a friend’s house.  While others could hide themselves in offices and libraries to read, study, test,  research, you did it while the world slept. 

While babies – my babies – slept in the room next to you because you never said no to a sleepover at Grandma & Grandpa’s.

If you were stressed, we never saw it. 

If you were overworked and exhausted and unsure if you could finish, we never knew.

Favourite dishes were cooked for Easter and Christmas and Birthdays over and over all the while you had numbers and data and texts and what ifs running through your head.

We never knew. 

Our lives didn’t change. 

Your grand children were sung to, played with and rocked to sleep.  They were loved and fed and cuddled and read to. 

They were grandmother-ed. 

I don’t know how you did it.  But I do know that I will never take the example you have been or the path you have led or the things you have accomplished for granted.

You have done something that is an inspiration to me, your (other) daughter, your granddaughters and any other woman who hears your story. 

I am amazed by you.  I am so proud of you.  I am so lucky to have you in my life.

Thank you for being you. 

Thank you for loving me. 

Thank you for being my children’s grandmother. 

Congratulations Doctor.

With all the love we can give and so many wishes that we could be there to celebrate with you,

Maija et al.

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  1. This is lovely, Maija. A true ode to her, and your heart.

  2. This really is beautiful. I hope she is fortunate enough to read it.

  3. beatutiful and inspiring, I can only hope to be the woman, mother, eventually grandmother that you have described.

  4. What a wonderful tribute to your amazing mother-in-law. She is an inspiration! And you are pretty awesome too for appreciating her. : )

  5. I so love this Maija – she sounds like an incredible woman!

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