Dear Mama,

A letter like this is hard to write, not just because I'm sharing it to the public, but rather I want to do you justice. How does one encapsulate a person who has given so much time and support towards your own personal growth? I feel like its a cliche nowadays to say that your mother is your best friend, but I can honestly say that it's true. I call and text you multiple times every day to catch you up on my life away from you. Our conversations can be short and sweet or run on for hours. Whether it's about what someone said in class or my adventures for the day, I always call to let you know. I don't do this because I feel like I have to but rather because I enjoy talking to you. Like any of my other college friends, you listen to all my stories, laugh at my jokes, and give the very best advice when I ask.

Although we are close, that doesn't mean we agree on every little thing. Sometimes our differing opinions and worldviews cause tension, but it never lasts and before long we are gabbing away again. As I get older, I begin to realize that you were right about certain subjects that I use to fight you on. In this way, you are more than just a close girlfriend but also a teacher and parent. Even when it frustrates you, you never try to make me change my perspective but rather give me the tools to try and see the other side. You've let me become the person I was meant to be, and I've realized that she's a lot more like you than I'd ever imagined.

You've taught me to be both kind and firm - to help others but not to an extent that it brings me more harm. You instilled in me the qualities of perseverance, integrity, and accountability. When things get tough, I push harder. When I get put into difficult situations, I don't take the easy way out if it will make others question my sincerity. I don't make promises I can't keep and I complete the tasks given to me in a timely fashion.

Mom, you've shown me what it means to be a woman of strong character by just being a good mother. Thank you for showing me how to respect myself and others, and how others should respect me. I've learned that being your daughter was truly a gift from God, and I'm not sure how I would have turned out if things had gone differently. You protect me and you guide me, but never to the extent that it would hurt my individuality. You lecture me when I've made a mistake, but never harshly enough that I stopped coming to you when I slip up. Somehow you have perfectly balanced being a friend, a parent, and a mentor throughout my life. So thank you for encouraging me to become the woman I was meant to be. I'm glad she reminds me a lot of you.

Love,

Francesca