Dear Mom and Dad,

I am not sure what it is about your senior year of college that makes one so sentimental, but in these past few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about my life and the person I have become. I think about all it has taken to get me to this point to where I am just a few months away from starting my own life as an adult- a real, all bills-paying adult with no safety nets of being a “student” still learning how the real world works. As I was reflecting on all of this, I realized just how much influence you both had on making me who I am today and how little I understood about your parenting tactics and lessons growing up. And then I realized how rare my appreciation is shown to you both for everything you have done- which is why I am here now, writing it down, so you know how much I love and cherish the both of you and everything you have done for me.

First off, thank you for raising me to become a responsible woman by giving me responsibilities from the time I was 4. Even though I complained every time I had to go out and bring in the cattle from wheat and load the dishes after dinner or roll my eyes when I had to feed the animals after basketball practice in the dark and do the laundry while you were both at work, it helped me become the responsible individual I am today and a hard worker that stands out from others in my generation labeled “millennials."

No matter how many mornings I woke up grumpy and angry at the world when your version of “sleeping in” was 8:30, I now realize how much better off I am by not being another teenager or college student who can sleep until 1 p.m. and be unaffected by wasting half of the day. Don’t get me wrong, there are days I sleep pretty late due to a week of no sleep and hard tests or nights when I close down Murphy’s on the strip, but having 21 years worth of mentality of getting up and being productive instead of lying around has helped me be a more successful student and future career woman.

Thank you for always allowing me to be myself and refusing to stop me from trying to “save all the barn cats”. No matter how many orphaned kittens, squirrels, bunnies, or squirrels I found over the years, you never discouraged me from trying to raise them back to health and save them. Yes, you may have said “not again” or “you’re insane" but you never discouraged me and you never told me I couldn’t do it- even if they were so close to death you knew it was pointless. And when I wasn’t able to save one and I came to you holding the baby in my hands with tears streaming down my face, you would hug me and tell me at least I tried. With that, you helped me become a more sympathetic and supportive individual who never gave up on trying and allowed me to always have a determined attitude and a willpower to always try and not be afraid to fail.

Although some memories of the times I got in trouble may still make me cringe to think about, I will forever be grateful for all the lessons you gave me as a “punishment." Such as the day I forgot to water the cattle at 12 years old after a 100 degree day and every tank was completely dry. You both made me sit out on the panel and watch as cattle fought over the water as they drank it as soon as it hit the bottom. I cried as my heart broke from the guilt of knowing I caused those animals to suffer and I had let them down as much as I had you. It was that moment I realized I am to care for others too and to never be a selfish individual who thought only of herself. I still to this day think back to that night and remember to always be aware of the effect my actions may have on those around me.

Out of every realization I have had, my favorite is when I realized your mom and dad are truly the best friends you could have asked for. No matter how bad my day has gone or how many mistakes I have made, I know I can always call you without judgment- even though you may give advice I don’t want to hear. Not many people will drop everything they are doing and drive over an hour to pick up a heartbroken 20-year-old from college because she couldn’t stop crying after being broken up with the first time and struggling to remember why she was continuing down the path she was on. Only someone who loves unconditionally would be so understanding and willing to help. Trust is something I continue to struggle with, however, I have never once doubted my faith and trust in you and never once have I ever considered a problem would arise that you wouldn’t try and help me through.

Over the past 21 years, you have taught me how to be compassionate, understanding, hard-working, trusting, selfless, productive, stubborn, responsible, and so, so much more. I will never be able to thank you enough for everything you have taught me. I know now that I’ve moved away from home and I continue to grow as an individual and live my own life that you think there will become a point where I don’t need you anymore, but, I can assure you that I will forever need you both. I cannot imagine a life where my first instinct isn’t to call you whenever I’m feeing alone or lost. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I appreciate all you have done in creating the person I am today and continue striving to be. I love you so much.

Sincerely,

Your daughter