Mom and Dad,

It’s not always often that during my busy, twenty year old life full of socializing, shopping and (sometimes) studying, that I really get to sit down and reflect on how lucky I am. I’m sitting in the library of my beautiful private college, well dressed and fed, realizing how truly blessed I am to even be able to write this. Not everybody is as lucky as I am. In a world where it is all too common to come from a broken home or lose a parent to sickness or tragedy, I somehow have God on my side.

Neither of you are thanked nearly enough for everything that you do for me (or my three siblings). Every single day you wake up and do what needs to be done. Whether that be bringing us to countless doctors appointments or working overtime hours during snowstorms to make sure you can provide us with everything we could ever need and more. I grew up in a loving, accepting, enriching environment, and cannot express how truly grateful I am for that. I never want either of you to feel under appreciated.

We were hardly ever told no when we were younger. Obviously we weren’t allowed chocolate for dinner or to get tattoos when we were 12, but our goals and ideas were never squashed. You fostered my crazy notions of becoming whatever I wanted to be when I was older. From a kindergarten teacher to an actress to the first female President of the United States, it was never unattainable according to you. Your support during all of my endeavors has given me the determination and courage to confidently go after my dreams. For this, I thank you.

Even when we weren’t allowed to do something, we were never sentenced to harsh punishments. You never stifled our need to explore and test our limits. Because of this, I never felt the need to rebel. I have never felt the need to lie to either of you. You have created a path of open communication in which we are never scared to ask questions in fear of being chastised. Your laid back, flexible parenting allowed us to explore the world around us knowing you both would be there to catch us when we fall. We have always been allowed to make our own decisions and are given the opportunity to learn and grow from the bad ones. For this, I thank you.

Your lessons on respect are something I will carry with me for the rest of my life. You taught me the importance of respecting everybody, including myself. I grew up as a good student and a coachable kid because of the way I was taught to speak with kindness and regard people’s decisions with careful consideration. You both have modeled an attitude for us in which you treat the janitor of a building with the same respect as you would treat the CEO. We learned that humans are humans, regardless of money, status, education, etc. Most importantly, you taught me how to respect myself. The way you both love me gave me the confidence necessary to realize my own self worth. You have always taught me to stick up for myself and, even though I’m relatively shy, to never let anybody walk all over me. These two lessons have carried me through my high school and college years. The love you both have for each other taught me what real love looks like. While no love is perfect, it taught me to demand quality from men and to never settle for anything in life, especially love. Knowing I have two parents who love me eliminates the need to seek that love out elsewhere, which isn’t always the case for girls my age. For this, I thank you.

I am eternally grateful for the countless ways you have shown me how important family is. You both have kept everybody together when things were thrown at us with the intention of destroying our bond. If any of us were in trouble, you were the first people by our sides to defend us. You created an environment in which we can come home alone after a horrible day and know each and every member of our family loves and supports us. I look around sometimes and realize that my situation is rare in today’s world. I get to spend every holiday, vacation, and triumphant moment in my life with all of you. Not everybody is that lucky. I owe it to you both for being the glue that holds it all together. It isn’t perfect, but it’s ours. For this, I thank you.

And of course, I couldn’t live without all of the day-to-day things you both do for me. Picking me up from school, taking me to doctors appointments, getting my car fixed (multiple times), answering my midnight phone calls, paying for my tuition/car insurance/phone bill/groceries/shopping habit, killing spiders, letting me sleep in your bed when I’m sick, always being a shoulder to cry on, and continuously providing me with every single opportunity you can to further my success. I know you both are not given enough credit for what you do for us.

I could go on and on, but I honestly cannot imagine living in a world without either of you. Whenever something good happens, you two are the first people I want to tell the news to. And whenever something bad happens, you two are the only people I need love and support from. I know I can tell you anything, from successes to failures, without it being a burden. There are no two people in the world I would rather call my parents. I’m eternally proud to be your daughter. And, for this, I thank you.