3. Write a letter to your parents.

Dear Mom, Dad & Tom…

When I think of writing a letter to you I picture a letter of thanks. But how do I even begin to say thank you to the 3 incredible humans that raised me and made me who I am today?

First off, mom & dad — Thank you for being vulnerable and continuing to put your souls out there to continue to try to make a sibling for Ryan after experiencing more than one miscarriage. Only now, at this stage in my life where I too am thinking a lot about starting my own family am I able to fully comprehend how hard that experience must have been for you. Thank you for loving me unconditionally, supporting me in everything, encouraging me to be sensitive, ambitious, daring and strong. Thank you for always working so hard in order to provide the best home for us. Thank you also for handling something as sensitive as your divorce in a manner that allowed Ryan and I to express, heal and be the best kids we could be. Thank you for continually telling us it wasn’t our fault, for seeking therapy for us to process this change and for always writing to Santa to make sure he knew the Stevens family had TWO Christmases.

Tom — Thank you for being my second dad. From Day 1 you entered our home coming from a difficult situation and approached it with humour, love and grace. Thank you for loving Ryan and I as if we were your own.

When people hear that my parents are divorced they say “oh I’m sorry” or make a sad face…the reality is that I feel so lucky! Thank you for making the right decision for you and therefore the BEST decision for us. I got to grow up seeing happy adults always (I am sure you guys are better actors than you let on), seeing good relationships and became individually closer with both of you.

Dad — we have had so many wonderful adventures together that have helped shape who I am today! You and I shared skipping — we travelled North America together. Our sing-alongs belong in a hall of fame! I am so proud when I speak about Tobermory and Lands End Park — the campground my family built! I love to think back to the whale rock and our climbing excursions to the caves. My best rehearsals of my one woman shows were on Mother Nature’s stage on the Bruce Trail. I get my punctuality, financial smarts, corny sense of humour, sensitivity, competitive nature, my love for games, my expert ability at double solitaire, work ethic and love of the oldie but goodie music from you! Thank you for giving me that piece of myself that I couldn’t be without and providing me with all the tools I need to be successful and loved. I love you so much!

Mom — I am called “mini-mom” for a reason. It is because I am so much like you! I am so proud of your charisma, your eye for design and your ever-growing heart. The moment you became pregnant with Ryan you stopped living for yourself and started living for your family. You’re crazy for doing that — but I am forever grateful and indebted to you for it! My favourite times are moments when we just sit together and gossip about life, binge watch our favourite shows and shop til we drop — while always finding the BEST deals. I get my ethnic flare, kindness, empathy, my love of candles, strength & courage, gullibility, confidence, vulnerability, and my love for Law & Order SVU from you! Thank you for always encouraging me and for supporting me through all my decisions and choices — no matter how crazy. I love you so much!

Tom — How lucky am I to have a second amazing father figure in my life. From the day we met when Ryan and I sat on those steps in our house, I knew we had a special bond. You are one of the most intelligent, hilarious, kind and talented people I know. If you look up ‘Jack of all Trades — Master of ALL’ in the dictionary there is a picture of you. (You are covering your face with your hands because you hate your photo being taken — but it’s you). You taught me how to not take life too seriously, how important family is, that colours in cooking are important, that humour can improve most situations and that happiness is a result of work, effort and love. Thank you for your endless love and support and for instantly making me your second daughter. Your love for mom is the perfect example to all four of us of how to treat a partner, thank you for giving us that gift. I love you so much!

Basically, let me sum up this letter and say THANK YOU! Thank you for all that you are, all that you do and everything in between!

I am so lucky to have the most incredible parents and I wouldn’t change anything about my crazy, amazing family (even if I could)!

Love Shan
aka Pumpkin
aka Princess
aka Squirt

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