Thanks, Mom and Dad (x 21)
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Thanks, Mom and Dad (x 21)

As I hit this big birthday-milestone, I reflect on all the times I may have forgotten to tell my parents "thanks" for these [wonderful] 21 years of life.

Thanks, Mom and Dad (x 21)
Marie Gaumont

Dear Mom and Dad,

On February 9th, I'll be turning 21-years-old (mark your calendars, in case you forgot).

Literally, without you two, I would never have been born; however, let it be known that while I may not always show my thanks, I do realize that without the two of you, I would never have become the woman I am, today. All of my successes have been possible because of you two, and all of my failures have been chances to push myself a little harder and redeem your pride in me. I owe it all to y'all.

This isn't a letter of thanks for all the monetary gifts you two have given me over these 21 years (although, you should know that I'm very grateful to have always been so spoiled), but instead, I'm taking some time to publicly thank you both for the things I may have previously overlooked.

For 21 years you two have raised me, and while there are countless things I could thank you for, here are 21 very special reasons for my gratitude:

1.) Thank you, Mom and Dad, for my college education. Okay, so I said I wouldn't be thanking you for monetary things, and my college attendance has definitely cost you a pretty penny, but you should know that I am thankful for the drive you both instilled in me to further my education, expand my learning, and experience a more complex way of thinking at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

2.) Tack så mycket for providing me with a multi-cultural identity. I cherish both of my passports, one Swedish and the other American. Both countries of citizenship have become my home and both languages roll off my tongue. Thanks for ignoring the boundaries of culture and country, and falling in love 25 years ago. Dad, I commend you on your great taste (Swedish women really are lookers), and Mom, thanks for finally giving that cute, American Marine a chance (you didn't give in to his advances right away - you made him work for it - you go, girl).

3.) ありがとう (Arigato) for further broadening my world-view, and opening my eyes to other cultures than my own, by moving our family to Okinawa, Japan. When I first heard we were moving to Japan, as a young girl about to start Middle School, I wasn't thrilled. I probably complained. But you both encouraged an adventurous spirit and we immersed ourselves into the Japanese ethos through all our family-outings to historical sights, the main-land and even the local grocery stores (where we tried our latest learned Japanese phrases). Truly, living in Japan for three years of my life was one of the best experiences I've ever had. So, when can we go back for a visit?

4.) Thanks for welcoming Tiki, my sweet pet Cockatoo, into our family. When I first told you both about acquiring the loud, feathered creature, there was a bit of hesitation (understandable, because you both worried how I could care for such hands-on, attention-needing pet while still in college), but you have since come to love her. Don't think I don't notice all the toys you make for her or the Cheez-Its you feed her when we come home from college! Neither of you probably thought you'd ever be parrot-grandparents, but because of how important she is to me, you spoil her just as you spoil me.

5.) I'm so gracious for the two of you showing me the treasure of family and togetherness. Your 25 years of marriage has showcased true, understanding, compassionate, compromising and undenied love. You two have modeled a marriage I hope to have one day.

6.) Many thanks for all the support I've received from you. You've supported all my endeavors. Whether it be attending school musicals (in which I didn't even star a lead role), reading and promoting all the articles I've ever written, or keeping all my report cards from my K-12 education and even displaying my "Chancellor's List" accommodations from college.

7.) I'm so thankful you two showered me with empathetic love, but disciplined me when I needed it with tough love. Sometimes, I needed a shoulder to cry on and at other times, I needed someone to tell me to cease my fake, obnoxious crocodile tears.

8.) Furthermore, I'm grateful to you both for dealing with all my attitude, know-it-all behavior, and back-talk. What I really mean to say is, thanks for never allowing me to start an attitude with either of you without condemning me with a consequence. Teenage-Marie thought you were sooooooooooooo annoying with the rules, "yes, ma'am," "no sir," and requirement of politeness, but 21-year-old-Marie appreciates those lessons of respect.

9.) Thank you so much for reading all my written work. As soon as I could hold a pencil in my hand, I began writing. From the imaginative cat-stories of my youth, to my Odyssey Online pieces, my constant readership public has always consisted of you two. I've always valued your input, whether it be about grammar corrections or concept ideas.

10.) I'm indebted to you for providing me with choices. Neither of you has ever tried to persuade me into believing in a certain faith, political ideology or moral value. You both may not agree on all matters previously listed, but that gave me the chance to create my own strong beliefs based off the two, very different, but separately valid, arguments you individually presented.

11.) I'm much obliged to you both for demonstrating acceptance of the many different people around the world. Things like racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and other discrimination of any sort never existed in our family. Hate was never exemplified. You two taught me the identity of a person was reflected by their behavior and speech, not their skin, gender or religious affiliation. You may have never said I should treat all people equally, but through your actions, you two have always been role models of equal treatment.

12.) Thanks a million for teaching me how to drive. First, you helped me obtain a driver's licence and even let me practice driving on your own, precious cars. Then, you even wanted to continue teaching me by letting me stall our stick-shift Audi (a million times), while learning to drive a manual. Hopefully, in a couple years, you'll stop complaining about my driving. After all, didn't I learn from the best?

13.) I acknowledge you saying things like "drive safe," "call me when you get there," and "be careful," any time I went out. When I was younger I may have rolled my eyes at your constant concern, but I understand now that those phrases were all synonym for the words "I love you."

14.) Thank you, thank you, for teaching me how to laugh at myself. Our household is constantly filled with laughter, and sometimes that laughter can be at the expense of one of us (usually it's you, Mom - unfortunately you're an easy target, you silly Swede). I'm glad we have always been able to poke fun at one another because it's taught me to never take life too seriously.

15.) I appreciate you both letting me spread my wings and vacate your comfortable nest. Even though you wanted me to attend an online college (I'm looking at you, Dad), you both begrudgingly let me move out and start my adult life in Pembroke. It's a good thing I visit often, or you two would have really lost your minds.

16.) Thanks to you, I've learned to cope with my fears. Some of my worst anxieties include plane rides and anything with needles. Thanks for trying to ease some of those fears by talking me through flight take-offs or holding my hand when I get my blood taken.

17.) I have to express my gratitude for the countless Disney movies you two watched with me throughout the years (and by years, I mean all 21 years of my life). From my first and favorite Disney film, The Lion King, to the very latest, you both never seem to be too old for a good movie night filled with singing and dancing animals.

18.) Thank you very much for refraining from telling me to "shut up," every time I'm [loudly] singing in the shower, the car, my room (which can be heard all the way into the living room), and during our church service. You two are even sweet enough to suggest I can carry a tune.

19.) Thanks, y'all, for dealing with my less-than-perfect gifts for birthdays, Christmases, Mother's/Father's Days and other special events. You two usually get stuck with hand-made, corny items or generic "here's a UNCP-trinket" presents. I'm sorry I'm so useless at gift-buying. Perhaps that gets better with age. Then, there's still hope for year 22!

20.) Thanks a lot for remembering all my favorites. You both keep in mind my favorite color, sports team and food items. Any time I come home from college, I find the pantry stocked with my best-loved hot chocolate and I'm usually treated to some of my favored meals - either chicken-fried steak or strawberry-cookie cheesecake (of course that's a meal, cheesecake can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert if you're brave enough).

21.) And lastly, cheers, Mom and Dad, for teaching me about responsible behavior. You trusted in my actions and decisions (even when I sometimes didn't deserve it), and in doing so, inspired me to be the best, sensible adult I could be - because I never wanted to let you down.

Because of this value you two have given me, you both can rest easy knowing that on my 21st birthday there will definitely be a designated driver present.

Thank you for all that you've done for me, thus far, but don't think you two are done just yet! I'm looking forward to many more years of your teachings, guidance, patience, and love. I'm still trying to become a woman you can be proud of - one that reflects all of the hard work and many sacrifices you made as parents.

I love you both.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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