My Dear Cinderella

Usually a Love Note is filled with love. A smattering of words to offer some wisdom about parenting. Not this one. This Love Note is a bit evil. The ballet of Cinderella opens this week, and as the step-mother, I get to write this one with malice (even if there is advice tucked within it).


I briefly considered beginning this letter with ‘my dear’, but I suspect you’d never believe it was written by me. For why would I, your evil step-mother, suddenly be kind? (Did you think I’d never heard you whisper that name behind my back? I have very good hearing, young lady.)

And you are right. I am not.

But once, I was.

I was just like you.

I was young. And kind. And beautiful. And I fell in love with a man who treated me like a princess. (No, not your father. That was an arrangement, a merger of households to protect me, and to care for you. We both know how well that turned out.)

So I know, right now, your life feels magical. I also know this will not last.

No, I will not engineer your misery. (In full truth I should write that I will not do so any longer, for clearly I have enjoyed exactly that for years.)

Life will provide plenty of hardships.

I have grasped those misfortunes with both hands and attempted to grind them to dust. I realize now it doesn’t work. The question is, what will you do about them?

Instead of trying to destroy your disappointments, be with them. Don’t hide from them or bury them or run from them. Allow them to be next to you. Not consuming you. Not taking you over. But side-by-side with you. Just as you did the old woman who came to our door. You invited her in. You sat beside her. You accepted her. (Despite her haggard face and vile odor.)

And, because of that, she transformed into your fairy godmother. That’s what happens with sorrow. Not right away. Not in ways we hope. Or can predict. But eventually.

Eventually, when we sit gently with heartache long enough, it becomes something unexpected. And so do we. We become more.

This is your chance for a different path. Not a better life, but a better way of living.

I do not doubt that we will see one another in passing over the years, for your prince may one day rule the land, but the kingdom is rather small. I will nod my respects due your station, nothing more. For this letter is a wedding gift beyond value. You would be wise to heed it. Which, in your youth and naiveté I wonder if you are at all capable of doing. Well, that is of no matter to me.

I have warned you.

Lady Tremaine


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