Dear parent,

So many people hear the term "single parent" and think of it as a limitation, hindrance, or burden. In my short lifetime, I have watched you take a lifestyle with such a negative connotation and make it beautiful. It was when you were forced to take on my upbringing alone that I saw you grow the most.

Over the last twenty years, I have watched you take life head-on. I have watched you break every stigma, break every rule and mold. I watched as you virtually took over the world, using your powers of strength, wisdom, and charisma for good. You took on your responsibility as my sole provider as a challenge; you fueled yourself with the position you were forced into and strove for success, seemingly effortlessly and without failure. You became both mother and father at once, and have somehow been able to single-handedly given me everything I could ever want or need. You managed to work full time and also dedicate time to me- memories I cherish every day.

Thank you for showing me what strength looks like. Thank you for teaching me that happiness is an inside job, that no one but myself could bring joy to my soul. You have mastered the art of self reliance and have done so elegantly. Thank you for demonstrating the difference between alone and lonely, for showing me that you can be alone and sustained and happy.

Because of you, I know what it truly means to be a strong and independent woman. I believe in love, but do not rely on it. I believe in independence, and thinking for myself, all because I watched you do it.

Thank you for staying with me through the good and bad times. Thank you for being there even if you didn't really know how and for treating me as a gift rather than an obligation.

Thank you for giving me a prime example of what it's like to live shamelessly yourself. Thank you for being bold, for daring to set goals for yourself any other individual would be too scared to face.

You are extraordinary. You are fierce. You are what it means to be an individual. You have broken down barriers for both yourself and me. You are glamorous and exquisite. You are hilarious and always laugh at my jokes; I'm lucky to have such an overly zealous fan.

I have always known, and will know forever, how lucky I am to have been raised and taught by you. I am not foolish enough to believe that I survived the first twenty years of life without any help. You are my rock, and I am forever grateful.

I admire you. I respect you. And I love you forever.