Moms and Dads

With Love, Mom: A Letter from Stephanie Zubiri

Writer, host, and single mom, Stephanie Zubiri, pens a beautiful letter to her sons on rising above the challenges of life.

This letter that Stephanie Zubiri wrote was first published on Modern Parenting’s special Mother’s Day-Father’s Day 2023 Print Edition available at

A mother’s love is a powerful force that knows no bounds. It’s unconditional, selfless, and
unwavering, and it’s present through the ups and downs, joys and sorrows, and the highs and lows of
life. To celebrate and commemorate this beautiful kind of love, and to close off a month that celebrates mothers all over the world, Modern Parenting brings you heartfelt letters from three moms to their children — starting with Stephanie Zubiri.

Stephanie Zubiri with her sons

Dearest Sebastian and Max,

“It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” – Sir Edmund Hillary

Sir Edmund Hillary, along with Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay, became the first ever known climbers to reach the summit of Mt. Everest, the world’s tallest peak. It’s an incredible feat of mankind, showing courage, perseverance, and fortitude. These are traits I see in you both. 

On January 2, 2023, two boys aged six and eight, summoned all their strength to ascend Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan. On a cold winter’s morning, bundled up and kitted out, we set out as a family to achieve something truly special. It was not an easy task. Over 10,000 feet above sea level, with an inclined ascent of one kilometer, 18,260 steps, and a total of twelve kilometers roundtrip, hand in hand you made it up to the mystical monastery and back. 

Max and Seb, you made your mama so proud that day.

Not because you reached the top, but because you both just kept going. Step by step, always moving forward. We took our time and stopped to appreciate the breathtaking views of Paro Valley. We made friends with the donkeys and horses along the path; looked up into the trees and admired the beautiful birds; discovered lucky charms like auspicious horseshoes and fleeting rainbows; turned prayer wheels and listened to the enlightening ding of their bells calling out in the wind. Most importantly, we stopped to breathe. To close our eyes, inhale deeply, and imbibe all the energizing life force around us emanating from the centuries-old pine forests.

When we got to the “top”, to that famous viewpoint where everyone has a photo, my heart was already so full. But you two wanted to soldier on. Before I knew it, you had gone down the valley, only to climb back up again to reach the actual monastery. 

There, we had to leave our cameras and phones. We then entered a mysterious place. One that can only be seen by those who visited in person. We were rewarded with something special. We were filled with the light and spirituality that only comes with truly being in the moment. To my surprise, you wished to visit all eight temples. You prayed solemnly, sat in contemplation, closed your eyes, and meditated. Then you lit candles and set your good intentions. 

Boys, your spirits shine brighter than that room of glowing butter candles.

I am always left in awe of your natural radiance. How blessed am I to be the mother of two soulful creatures! Full of compassion and kindness. Empathy and love. 

So much can be learned from this experience of yours. You see, the world is not an easy place. Much like a mountain, it’s filled with beauty and moments of wonder, but it can also be perilous and uncertain, where loose stones and uneven ground can cause you to wobble off balance. Every day, there will be tests and struggles. Every day you may face a version of Everest. 

A math problem you can’t solve. A challenging encounter with a bully. A disagreement with a friend. Frustration, anger, sadness, and disappointment are very natural emotions. Don’t brush them aside. Feel them. Accept them for what they are and release them. For we have a choice. Our only true freedom is that freedom of choice. How do we choose to react in the face of adversity?

Choose to let go and take the lesson. Choose the good; choose the path of light.

Trust yourself. Have faith and courage. Take things one step at a time. Pause when you need to. Lean in for help. It’s okay to be vulnerable and ask for assistance. Relish the process. And most importantly, don’t forget to breathe. 

We climb not because we want to reach the top. Because we have to come right back down anyways. And usually, that descent is even trickier and more difficult. No, we climb because the journey teaches us lessons we will never learn if we just stay stagnant. “It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”

You are your greatest teacher. Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo Guru Deva. I bow to the divine teacher within. All the wisdom and light we need are inside us. Seek love. Seek light—just like you did that day at the temple. Continue to fan that beautiful flame inside you. Keep that pure and shimmering fire burning. Stoke the warmth so you may continue to share it with everyone around you.

You, my children, are my greatest teachers. I am grateful.

All my love, Mama

Read more letters like Stephanie Zubiri’s:

With Love, Mom: A Love Letter from Jerika Ejercito

With Love, Mom: A Love Letter from Sunshine Cruz

A Heartfelt Letter from Our Editor-in-Chief This Mother’s Day 2022

Order your Modern Parenting magazine's print copy:
Download this month's Modern Parenting magazine digital copy from:
Subscribe via [email protected]