mending while bending

The Christmas Letters

11695844_10204682699407428_6583199390965072091_n-300x298.jpgOne of my greatest regrets is that my late husband never wrote our kids a special letter telling them just how much he loved them. His death was an accident so we didn’t know better – we didn’t expect him to go. I’d love to be able to bring that special letter out when they are sad or missing him but that’s just not possible.

It’s been six years and despite knowing better I’ve never written a letter to my kids. I’m rectifying that this Christmas and writing them both a special letter to keep forever that explains just how mommy feels about both of them. I’m also writing letters to my bonus kids and my husband Keith is doing the same for all four as well. We are handwriting and wrapping these letters and placing them under the tree and it may just become a family tradition of annual love letters to our kids. Each new year a recap of their growth, their qualities, and our love. I believe handwriting them is important and add an extra special touch.

I’m sharing my letter to my daughter with you all in hopes that inspires you to do the same for your children. Your love is their greatest gift now and forever.12391974_10205609532057665_8836257444892551898_n-300x225.jpg

Dear Addison,

When I found out I was pregnant with you I cried happy tears. I wrote your Daddy a card to tell him the news and when he read it he smiled from ear to ear. We were both overjoyed to add a baby to our family. Your Daddy was a classically funny guy with a big personality so when we went in for the ultrasound to find out the sex it was in typical Mitch form that his response to “It’s a girl” was “Oh Shit” – Mommy just laughed at the exchange. You see, I knew exactly what your Daddy was saying. He knew he was going to be a sucker for his baby girl. He knew you were going to be strong, and independent and beautiful (inside and out) and for that his response was, “Oh Shit”. Mommy wouldn’t normally share that language with you Addison but it’s a funny story about your Daddy I thought you should know. He loved you so much and couldn’t wait to hold you in his arms.


You were late, 2 weeks late to be exact. You didn’t want to come out and finally the doctors decided they weren’t giving you a choice any longer. They called me into the hospital so they could induce you (that means help you be born). As I walked into the elevator at the hospital my water broke right there – it seems you had the same date planned as your doctors and I knew already what kind of personality I was going to have in my little girl. Feisty, stubborn, independent, and brave – all amazing qualities if you ask your mother.

At 2:35am you finally made your way into this world and when I first looked at you I couldn’t hold back my emotions. You took my breath away. 8 pounds 8 ounces and 22 inches long – you were perfect, and beautiful, and nothing short of miraculous.

You, in a single instance changed my world forever.

You’ve not stopped changing my life since. You amaze me in all the best ways. You make me proud to be your mother.

Your first word was “dada” at six months old and you walked at 9 months – right from the start you aimed high. You’ve traveled so many places in this world all by the tender age of 9 and you seem to be entranced by other people and their unique way of life. You have an empathetic heart, an old-soul, and a love of learning that I’ve rarely seen in other children I’ve known. Injustice bothers you both within friendships and beyond, and your spirt is adventurous and brave.309219_3640938542130_1776698218_n-225x300.jpg


Please know that the day we lost your father my heart309219_3640938542130_1776698218_n broke in two not just for my own loss but for the loss you’d be forced to face not having him in your life. Addison you must know that you embody so many of your father’s best qualities. You have a love of life, a love of nature, and a love family that clearly comes from him. You have his silky skin, his hair, and his smile. You also have a charismatic charm and the ability to friend everyone that assures me his key qualities live on in you. Oh, and girl you can ski and your Daddy just loves seeing that.

You are also your mommy. You are stubborn, super independent and pretty darn strong. You hurt when others hurt and you reflect deep and long on nearly all situations. You love to cook, sing and listen to beautiful music. These qualities instilled in you from me and I’m thankful for your varied and complex layers.

You are also your own self. You have qualities that neither your Dad and I seemed to posses but you shine in your own ways. You are artistic, diligent with your school work, and your love of all things science is nothing short of awesome.

I’ve been amazed watching you grow the past 9 years. From ballet to rock climbing, skiing to swim team – you seem to want to try it all and truly LIVE this life you have been given.



 You’ve been such a big help in blending our new little family. You’ve embraced your new siblings, your “dad on earth” as you call him, and sharing your mommy beyond yourself and Matthew. I know it’s not always easy but the one thing I can tell you is that MORE love is ALWAYS better than less love. Even on those days were you fight with your siblings and wish it was different – I want you to give yourself grace with your grief, be where you are and then after find all the ways you are abundantly blessed. Our lives are not perfect but no person who walks this earth has a perfect existence. The key to a happy life is embracing all the things you currently have that are worth being happy for.


Your “dad on earth” adores you too and please always understand that anyone who asks for the job of being a dad is someone pretty special. Your dad on earth asked to be in not only your mommy’s life but also you and Matthew’s life and he loves you from the bottom of his heart.

You are one of the two best things I’ve ever done in this life and there are no words to describe just how much I adore and love you. Mommy never wants to be without you for even a moment but regardless of where I am you can also rest assured that you are loved from the bottom of my soul.

Mommy believes that love and energy endure even after death. I believe love is forever and even great distance can’t separate or stop love. One of mom’s favorite quotes is:

“They that love beyond the world cannot be separate by it. Death cannot kill what never dies.” ~William Penn

Addison you inspire mommy to do and be more. You remind me of all the good that is left in this world and why I wanted to become a mother in the first place.

You are my heart running around in another body and always remember you are perfect just the way you are.

There is just no way I could love you more.

Mommy <3

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Michelle Steinke-Baumgard is a published author, international speaker, virtual fitness coach, mother and a re-married widow. After losing her husband Mitch in 2009 she turned to exercise as an outlet for grief and a way to handle stress. Michelle found it so powerful that she eventually quit her corporate job to become a fitness trainer. Since then Michelle has been featured in Fitness Magazine, Shape Magazine, contributed to articles for Prevention Magazine, The Huffington Post, and countless other media outlets. In addition to her virtual training business, Michelle recently launched her own nonprofit focused on helping widows and widowers complete bucket list dreams to honor their late spouse while moving boldly into their future. You can read much of Michelle’s words on One Fit Widow and her new blog – Mending While Blending Facebook

You can find our more about Michelle’s nonprofit at: Live the List

You can find out more about Michelle’s training programs at: 1fw Training