The very first distinct memory I have in life is being upset at preschool because another little girl in my class wouldn’t share my favorite doll with me. Sounds stupid, right? However, it wasn’t to me when I was four. I remember being bitter and purely sad…I felt left out and all I wanted was my mom.

From an extremely young age, we go to our parents as our role models, mentors, friends, and personal hero’s. They’ve been the ones to change all the dirty diapers, apply Band-Aids to “boo-boo’s” that weren’t even existent, make a PB & J five days a week for 11 years straights, and crawl into bed when there’s scary monsters in the closet.

Fast-forward a decade and they’re still right by your side, whether you want them to be or not. Your bratty teenage attitude has them at their breaking point and you could care less; you’re “too cool” to be seen with dad at the grocery store, let alone anywhere. The lunches that mom makes are no longer satisfying enough, and, the relentless reminder that you have to do your homework turns into screaming matches and locked bedroom doors.

Today, I am 20 years old and in my third year of college. Want to know who I miss the most? The woman who carpooled me to cheerleading each week and the man who gave me numerous trips to Disney World…otherwise known as mom and dad.

Looking back I would have made it nowhere in life if I didn’t have these two. They’ve shaped me into the person I am, and strive to be, each day I open my eyes. There is a sad part to this situation and that sad part is that they aren’t around to see it anymore. Mom and dad aren’t around to celebrate with me when I get a good grade, or have dinner waiting on the table when I get home from a practice. It’s beautifully tragic. And the reason I say that is because, yes, it is upsetting they are no longer there every second in my day, but the beautiful part is they don’t need to be.

It’s the smallest things I have my parents to thank for: Knowing grades come before play, to say please and thank you whenever I am at a guests house, to accept all of those around me, regardless of appearance or social group, and to love those that I care about unconditionally. I’ve learned to help others as much as possible, but to put myself first when its necessary. Budgeting my bank account, staying healthy as possible, knowing due dates, having an amazing wardrobe, doing chores, and being organized comes from both of them as well. The most valuable thing I’ve learned from them, though, is not to take life too seriously. My mom and dad are two of the most fun-loving individuals I know, and trust me, being in college you meet plenty of fun-lovers. They’ve taught me its okay to take a day to myself and appreciate the small things. It’s acceptable to mess up on a test, or eat an entire plate of cookies when I’m sad. In my eyes, life is too short to be anything but happy, and I owe infamous Mom and Dad for that motto, along with everything else I have become and will be for the rest of my life. I love you both infinitely.