"The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find happiness" - Honore de Balzac

Dear mom,

As I write this, I am sitting back at my house, with my dog beside me, and you are just a few seats away. I have just completed my freshman year at West Virginia University. Being away from home has been an adventure in itself, and you have been by my side through it all. So here is a letter for you, mom, and your support throughout this year. Thank you for being the amazing woman you are.

You supported me throughout all of my emotional decisions (and distress).

When I was frustrated with my major and wanted to completely change my entire future? You were there for me, lending your ears, helping me decide what I wanted in life and what I needed to do to achieve that. When I secretly pierced my nose, but eventually decided to tell you? You were upset I kept it from you, but you went right back to (lovingly) picking on me for it. You accepted me for me, and have always accepted the way I choose to express myself. Whenever I had an extremely rough week, you would get food delivered to me as a present for a “job well done”. Before heading to my exams throughout the week, you always made sure to wish me good luck and tell me to kill it. Thank you for giving me confidence when I couldn’t find it in myself.

You always made sure you made time for me, especially when you knew I needed you most.

Moving away from home was hard. I lived in the same house basically all of my life, and it is all I have ever known. To just completely pack up my entire life and move four hours away was emotionally and mentally stressful, and I know sending off your youngest was strenuous for you as well. You set your own emotions aside to make sure I was completely safe and comfortable. You checked in on me every single day, whether it was with a quick text, a call, or a long FaceTime chat. You may never know how appreciative I am of you and how much those little things mean to me. You came to Morgantown to visit me when I was having a bad time, and helped me feel better. You send me pictures of my dog some days, and its almost as if you know the days that I needed to see my dog the most. Thank you for knowing me better than I know myself.

You taught me what being a strong independent woman meant.

Before college, I was extremely shy, and couldn’t even gain enough courage to start up a conversation with someone. You forced me to reach past my comfort zone and to try things that terrified me. And guess what? It worked. I now have an amazing group of friends who I wouldn’t trade for the world, and all because you showed me the importance of friendship and how easily it is to find people you click with. On the other hand, you always told me that I didn’t need anyone else to make me happy: I had to find a way to make myself happy. Unfortunately, this is where we disagree. I need you, mom, and I always will. Thank you for teaching me what a strong woman looks like, and I will always know what she looks like as long as I have you.

You made me see the importance in being able to laugh at yourself.

When dad and I got our first tattoos together, you called me a hooligan (with a smile on your face) as I lay on the tattoo bench. You held my hand through the entire ordeal. When I got my nose ring, you mentioned how our neighbor’s cows had the same piercing (we both thought this was hilarious). Being able to laugh at myself has taught me that the things that I used to find important are so miniscule now. You taught me how to care about real issues, and things that I truly believed in (even if we don’t agree on most things- you supported me to follow my dreams). You taught me how important it is to see the jokes in life’s everyday hassles, and making life happier and brighter – so thank you.

And most of all, thank you for believing in me, when it felt like I couldn’t even believe in myself.

When I thought I was going to fail my biology classes, you told me all I needed to do was sit quickly, buckle down, and do work. With tough love and determination I learned study habits that were not provided to me in high school. You knew I could do it. When I decided to steer away from the pre-med track in college, you told me I could accomplish anything I could possibly want, as long as I set my mind to it. You always knew what to say to me and when to say it.

Thank you for being my mother. My lifetime best friend. My forever role model. My life coach. My mentor.

I couldn’t imagine having anyone else as a mother, and I just want you to know how much I appreciate all you’ve done for me, especially this past year.