Maybe homeschooling wasn't your first choice— having four little kids stuck in a small apartment all day with you. Taking on that added responsibility of not only a parent but a teacher. But even at eight years old, I remember that you made us your first priority, and that was what mattered.

I remember the early mornings you spent reading to my brother and I. We would both be falling asleep, but you read anyway. Those were just the kinds of sacrifices you made for us, and I want you to know that they mattered.

I remember fighting with you about math, and how I would do anything to get out of it. I didn't win those fights. You made me do the work I was supposed to do, and for that I am grateful. I was learning to work hard.

Over the next few years, you taught me how to love learning. I didn't realize that until this year when I was thinking about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

Now, as I watch my peers drop out of school and make bad choices and settle for less than what they want, I feel like I can fully appreciate all that you've done for me. I love learning because of you. I want to be a better person for you and because of you.

You taught us how to think and act for ourselves. You always made sure we had good friends and good role models. You made sure that I knew who I was and whose I was — yours and God's. You taught me to make decisions based on what I thought was right, and not just what was popular. You taught me how to stand up for what I believed in.

You've always supported me when I make my own decisions, even when you think those decisions will take me farther from you. When I decided to go to high school my junior and senior years, you were there, and you helped me get there. You've given me all the tools I've needed to succeed.

I guess I just wanted to say, thanks, mom. Thank you for taking me on field trips, arguing with me over schoolwork, and for giving me every opportunity I ever could have wanted. Thank you for pushing me to do great things. You did it, mom. I got to where I needed to be because of you. You're my hero.