Dear Mom and Dad,
Our 22 years together weren't always pleasant. I know I wasn't always the perfect angel, but how could I not? You never let me forget it. I know you don't parent for recognition and you don't expect thank you's (Good thing, too. You would be quite disappointed), but I thought you deserved it anyway. It's because of your tough parenting that I turned out the way I did, so here is a list of 10 things I never thought I'd say thank you for. You deserve it.
Thank you for:
1. Making us sit at the table every night for dinner.
I was always jealous of those friends that got to eat mac and cheese in front of the TV or pizza in their bed, but they were missing out. I didn't know how much I appreciated it until I went away to college, but now I miss the bonding and the teasing, not to mention the well rounded, home cooked meals.
2. Instating family game nights.
Despite the fact that we always had trouble agreeing on a game and some nights ended in tears and the stomping of feet, you still insisted we have one every few weeks or so. In addition to the fun memories and family bonding, game nights also taught us the importance of sportsmanship.
3. Finding shows that we could watch together.
I will never forget fighting for the last spot on the couch every night while we settled down to watch our favorite shows. Now, when I watch TV alone, I miss seeing who could guess what was going to happen next or who could pick the next American Idol or Survivor.
4. Making me do chores.
I may have complained about and avoided my chores as much as possible, but chores are an important part of growing up. I was especially grateful when I got to college and made friends who didn't know how to do their own laundry and never cleaned their dorm.
5. Being tough on me when it comes to my grades.
When you set the standards, I did everything in my power to make you proud. Sometimes I pushed myself too hard, but that's how I learned my limits. If you didn't care about the difference between a B+ and an A, I never would have pushed myself to get the grades you knew I deserved.
6. Making me earn the things I wanted.
Tantrum after tantrum, you never gave in. Anything we really wanted, we had to earn. Sure, we occasionally got little surprises and were far from deprived, but crying and begging got us nowhere but our rooms. Once we were old enough, you pushed and pushed until we got jobs. At the time, it was annoying, but now, I'm thankful for the work ethic it gave me.
7. Never letting me quit.
At my first dance recital, when I cried and cried because there were too many people, you pushed me on stage where I had the time of my life. When I stopped reading for fun, you bugged me until I could no longer put down a book once I picked it up. When I refused to join the school play, you put your feet down and forced me to join what became my second family. When I wanted quit the cheer squad, you convinced me to hang in there until I was standing front and center at every football game.
8. Embarrassing me at any cost.
I used to think that having my dad yell the loudest at every cheer competition or scream my name in the middle of a dance recital was the most mortifying thing that could ever happen to me. As the years went on, however, I realized that when I didn't hear the embarrassing hoots and hollers, I was disappointed. You did it because you cared, because you were proud of me. That made me pretty proud of myself.
9. Always making me put family first.
I'm sure I really wanted to go to the boardwalk or the movies instead of another family birthday or dinner, but I am so glad you stood your ground. Now that I am hours away I miss those dinners with everyone more than anything else. You've always forced me to put family first and now I always will.
10. Taking an interest in my passions.
Ever since I started writing, you have both always wanted to read my pieces, no matter what. You always have critiques and feedback. I may not always love the comments, but the fact that you were always interested pushed me to keep writing. And look at me now, writing for strangers on the internet.
Sometimes I thought you were being cruel and hateful, but now I know that you had my best interests at heart. You were just trying to raise me and my brothers into well-rounded adults. One out of three isn't so bad, is it? Just kidding. Thank you.