An Open Letter To My Parents Before I Graduate

An Open Letter to My Parents Before I Graduate

Thank you for believing in me and for giving me the world.

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Dear Mom and Dad,

It's been a long journey, but the day we have collectively dreamed about is finally here. From the very beginning, you both encouraged me to follow my heart. You supported this dream of mine and while many worried about the career opportunities I would have down the road, you guy's never worried. I can't thank you enough for believing in me even when I didn't believe in myself. Not many kids are fortunate enough to have parents that support and believe in their dreams.

It feels like just yesterday you were moving me into the dorms. I remember thinking college would never end and there was no way I would get over the homesickness. After many phone calls home, you guys convinced me that this scared feeling would pass and I would soon find my way. As time went on, there were fewer phone calls home filled with tears. I found friends, I got a job, and I got involved. Again, you guys were always there to give me a little nudge to put myself out there and to have fun. It paid off and if you hadn't encouraged me, I wouldn't have met the friends I am now having to say goodbye too.

Thank you for weathering every tear-filled phone call, threats to drop out, and stress-induced sassy comments with such grace. After surviving 6 finals weeks at college, I know you guys are just as happy they are officially over as much as I am. While many people have congratulated me for my efforts in college, it was a collective effort between the three of us. This degree I am receiving is just as much yours as it is mine because you helped me achieve it.

Thank you for giving me the gift of an education. From the bottom of my heart, I can't thank you enough for the gift that is being debt free after graduation. I know you both had to sacrifice and save a lot for me to be able to do this, so please know it does not go unrecognized. You could have spent it on yourselves but you decided to invest in my future. Since you decided to do this, I will have more doors open to me. I am very blessed and I promise to make you proud of whatever I do in my life and in my career.

We did it! I couldn't ask for better parents and a better support team than you two. It's hard to believe this chapter in our lives is over. I hate to admit you are right when you guys said: "you'll miss this someday". I am afraid of the unknown and the impending adulthood that awaits me on the other side of the stage at graduation, but I know as long as I have you two I will be okay. Please don't worry about me, as I am positive I will find my way. Know that you raised me with a strong independent spirit and because of that I will keep fighting until I get what I want out of this life. I thank God for you two and this experience I have had every day. Thank you for believing in a kid with a dream and helping them achieve it. Here's to my future that is far brighter now because of the lifelong gift you have given me.

Love,

Your Graduate

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To The Dad Who Didn't Want Me, It's Mutual Now

Thank you for leaving me because I am happy.
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Thank you, for leaving me.

Thank you, for leaving me when I was little.

Thank you, for not putting me through the pain of watching you leave.

Thank you, for leaving me with the best mother a daughter could ask for.

I no longer resent you. I no longer feel anger towards you. I wondered for so long who I was. I thought that because I didn't know half of my blood that I was somehow missing something. I thought that who you were defined me. I was wrong. I am my own person. I am strong and capable and you have nothing to do with that. So thank you for leaving me.

In my most vulnerable of times, I struggled with the fact that you didn't want me. You could have watched me grow into the person that I have become, but you didn't. You had a choice to be in my life. I thought that the fact that my own father didn't want me spoke to my own worth. I was wrong. I am so worthy. I am deserving, and you have nothing to do with that. So thank you for leaving me.

You have missed so much. From my first dance to my first day of college, and you'll continue to miss everything. You won't see me graduate, you won't walk me down the aisle, and you won't get to see me follow my dreams. You'll never get that back, but I don't care anymore. What I have been through, and the struggles that I have faced have brought me to where I am today, and I can't complain. I go to a beautiful school, I have the best of friends, I have an amazing family, and that's all I really need.

Whoever you are, I hope you read this. I hope you understand that you have missed out on one of the best opportunities in your life. I could've been your daughter. I could have been your little girl. Now I am neither, nor will I ever be.

So thank you for leaving me because I am happy. I understand my self-worth, and I understand that you don't define me. You have made me stronger. You have helped make me who I am without even knowing it.

So, thank you for leaving me.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Moms Teach Us What It Means To Have A Friend In The Valley

The closest thing we have to God and God's sacrifice and forsakenness of his son in Jesus Christ are our mothers in those moments, and sometimes the femininity in Christianity is ignored and overlooked, but after all, it was women who first found the biggest miracle in the world: the resurrection.

Ryan Fan
Ryan Fan
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This Mother's Day is weird, and it feels different from the rest. It's the first one I'm celebrating with faith as my stronghold, and it's the first one I'm celebrating with my mother in a couple of years where I'll actually be within her presence. This year was one in which almost every part of my values system and identity were tested in a manner I didn't think possible before, and to be with the core of the person who made that identity in the first place is a valuable experience.

Being with my mom this Mother's Day, for the first time in four years, teaches me that the suffering I travailed in my valley of the shadow of death, cited in Psalms 23, wasn't unnatural, wasn't wrong, but the plan for God. God guided me and led me the entire time. Phrases from Psalms 23:1 and Psalms 23:4 are perhaps the most famous in Biblical literature: "The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want" and "I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me." But often, Psalms 23 is misinterpreted as a verse for how to numb pain and escape from the valley in a misguided interpretation of theology. No, Psalms 23 might not make life better, but it may change us in how we confront life.

I was fortunate in having a good mother, a great one, and in my opinion the best in the world. But it's important, at the same time, to recognize that Mother's Day is a day of pain and anguish for a lot of people. Some people, on Mother's Day, are reminded of traumas, deaths, or absences that make them walk through the valley. But I can only speak to my experiences in realizing I'm the luckiest person in the world, and I hope that everyone in this world has found a maternal figure that has fulfilled that obligation in a manner their mothers possibly couldn't.

I watched a sermon by Margaret Reynolds of Grace Midtown, in which she spread the message that the joy of Psalms is not in withdrawing and escaping from the valley, but confronting it full-force with strength. And what gives us that strength is the "with-ness" of God and God's gifts of unconditional love, particularly our mothers when they are with us through our storms and struggles. The true story of what defines and charts our lives is not when we try to escape the valley, but when we are deep in the valley, wondering whether God truly has given up on us.

When we are suffering, the important thing is that our mothers are also suffering in anguish for us, as much, if not even more than we are. The closest thing we have to God and God's sacrifice and forsakenness of his son in Jesus Christ are our mothers in those moments, and sometimes the femininity in Christianity is ignored and overlooked, but after all, it was women who first found the biggest miracle in the world: the resurrection.

In Allison Woodard's moving poem, "God Our Mother," she states that "to be a Mother is to suffer." I know of this firsthand, that the suffering of my mother was profound in acting upon me and my brother's measure -- the multiple jobs and sleepless nights she endured to make sure we had food on our plates were things we always neglected and underappreciated.

"To be a mother is to...[be] subjected to indignities for the sake of new life," and although this connection may be obvious, I wonder what my mother could have been or done in her life, independently, and could have been had it not been for how much she had to take care of myself and my brother. She is the one who told the world and told our family, in response to the world's primal hunger, "this is my body, take and eat," because the cruelty of the world ate at her body and all she did in response was suffer and endure it.

"To be a Mother is to...offer the...assurances of 'I'm here,'" and if I didn't know you were here and always here for me this whole time, I don't know where I'd be. I don't think I would be alive, and I don't think my brother would be either, so thank you so much for everything you did for us. "To be a mother...[is to] long for reconciliation and brotherly love," and I wish your frustrations from all those years of us getting into spats and fights were worth it because we have a bond that is unshakable now.

And to be a mother, mom, for you, is to "gather all parties...and to whisper in their ears/ that they are Beloved," because that's what you've always told me in my times of desperation and need. And to be a mother is to be "vulnerable --/ To be misunderstood,/ Rallied against,/ Blamed," and that's what you have always been to me and to us, when we didn't give you the benefit of the doubt on minor things like dishes or the right way to merge onto a highway. You were the just the target for "the angst [we] feel/ over [our] own existence/ in this perplexing universe."

And to be a mother "is to be an artist/ A keeper of memories past." In the past, mom, I had frustrations over how many photos you would keep and hoard of me and Raymond, of seemingly terrible and unuseful photos of us framed on the doors. You are "a Mender of broken creations/ And Comforter of the distraught children." You are the mender and the comforter of my struggles and my life, whether I realize it or not, and to that I pray for your continued good health and peace.

You are a "Bestower of names,/ Influencer of identities;/ Life giver/ Life shaper,/ Empath,/ Healer,/ and/ Original Love," and in what I'm struggling through right now, mom, you are what has taught me what it means to have a friend through the valley.

Ryan Fan
Ryan Fan

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