You had me at eighteen. I can’t imagine how overwhelming that would have been. You’re fresh out of high school, trying to figure out what’s next in life, and now you and Dad have a top heavy tiny human to care for. While I’m sure it felt like you were figuring out as you went, I look back on the last 26.5 years and have never felt anything short of absolute love, security, and support.
But not only did you care for me, you led by example and showed me how to care for myself. You had a vision for your life and you went for it. With a child in tow, you set off on an academic pursuit that is nothing short of remarkable. A diploma, an undergrad, a Master’s, and a PhD later, you stand today as Dr. Shanni Philp. What the diplomas on the wall don’t show though is that while your classmates were focused on school, that was just your side-gig to your full-time job as mom – my mom, Kaylie’s mom, and Seth’s mom.
You brought an incredible little girl into the world three years after me, just in time to start your undergrad. And while most of your classmates were living on campus, you were commuting 2 hours both ways, every day, so that you could be there when we woke up and be home in time to tuck us in at night. You sacrificed for us. What felt like a normal childhood with our mom was anything but normal for you. While you only had your evenings to study, you’d still spend time with us, breaking down geometry questions, quizzing me for an upcoming geography test (I still remember you telling me that the capital of Saskatchewan rhymed with a female body part, which may have scarred me, but also made sure I never got that multiple choice question wrong), and of course spending time in prayer. Only then – once we were studied up, prayed up, and asleep – would you open up your own books.
Then in the middle of your Master’s, another top heavy tiny human (Seth) came along for the ride, but that didn’t slow you down. Now three of us had our own personal tutor, cheerleader, and friend who also happened to be leading her class in one of the most competitive Master’s programs in the country.
After graduation you had your pick of jobs (no surprise there). After years in a role that people in your profession work their whole careers to get to, you decided you wanted a new challenge and decided to open up your own clinic. At this point you’re not only an Audiologist, you’re an entrepreneur. What makes this so remarkable is that you did it for selfless reasons. You wanted to care for patients the way you wanted to care for patients. And you’ve done that. You’re a staple in the community you call home. I get to open the paper and see your photo with community members whose lives you’ve impacted out of pure generosity and empathy.
And because, of course, that wasn’t enough, you decided a few years ago that you’d start teaching. Now you’re Shanni Philp, Audiologist/Entrepreneur/Professor. But those are just your professional titles, there are more “slashes” to add.
We can add “/Athlete”. A few years ago you decided that you’d start running, just because it was something to do. And true to form, you didn’t just start “running”, you decided to start running marathons. Yes. Multiple. Marathons. I always respected that, and then I decided to try my hand at one myself and was humbled at the end to find out that your time was a full hour faster than mine. Yes, that means you could have finished the race, watched a full episode of Game of Thrones, and still had enough time to walk back to the finish line to cheer me through.
And true to form you basically did that. When I told you I planned to run a marathon you said “oh cool, well I’ll plan to be there when you finish, so I might at well run the half marathon since I’ll be there already”. Yeah, most people don’t do that. But you do, because you’re you.
While these are all noteworthy, I know you’ll dismiss them as minor footnotes. What I won’t let you dismiss are the strong acts of faith both you and Dad have displayed through it all. God has always been at the center, and always will be. You walk by faith. Through every turn, you and Dad have let The Spirit guide you and have taught us to do the same.
You and Dad have set the standard. You’re both compassionate givers, infinitely generous, and always working for the Kingdom of God. You’ve both impacted so many, beyond just our family. Any time I talk to someone that knows you, they heap praise on you both – and I feel so proud to have the opportunity to call you my parents.
You’ve also set the standard with each other. Getting married as teenagers, with young kids, doesn’t exactly have a high statistical probability of success, yet you’ve been each other’s rock since the day you said “I do”. You’ve set an example for Kaylie, Seth, and I. And that’s already playing out in the way Kaylie and Tristan have built a strong foundation in their marriage.
I could keep going, but I feel like as you’re reading this you’re already uncomfortable because while you deserve much public praise you prefer to toil in private. Your hypothetical business card would have a lot more “slashes” than the ones I listed above, but what makes you so special is the one I know is most important to you: /mom.
You have a walking/talking resume under your /mom title. Two incredible humans (Kaylie and Seth), and another one that’s trying to figure it out (me). Your daughter, Kaylie, has grown into an incredibly strong, driven, and compassionate woman, just like you. Your son, Seth, has your intellect, your generosity, and your kind heart.
And me. I recognize that anything I’ve done, or will do, is because I have been standing on the shoulders of giants (you and Dad).
Shanni Philp – you are one of my best friends, my hero, and my mom. You are iconoclastic, always pushing the envelope of what would be expected. You are never complacent, challenging yourself personally, physically, academically, and professionally.
As long as I’ve known you (26.5 years) you’ve been a blessing to everyone around you. While only two other (special) people can call you mom, so many others call you a hero and friend.
Thank you, and Happy Mother’s Day.
And Dad, we are all equally the byproduct of you, so stay tuned for the Father’s Day blog post.