Mom, Dad, let's be honest. When I was just a kid, there were moments that I didn't particularly like you. Which is normal, right? Right. I'd tell you countless times that I just wanted to run away. You'd help my pack my Little Mermaid duffle bag, grab a few snacks to put into my bright pink lunchbox, and watch out the front window as I marched down the driveway. Of course, you'd try to hide your smile when you noticed I'd turned right back around at the mailbox only to come back in the door crying. Then you'd both sit down with me after I had a glass of milk, of course, and lecture me about the dangers of running away. You held me when I sobbed about how I couldn't wait to grow up. I just couldn't wait to grow up.
At 13 years old, you taught me how to manage money. I learned quickly that you didn't automatically give me more when I blew it. You also showed me what hard work was. And it didn't take long for me to understand your expectations about my grades and school work. When I got myself in trouble, getting grounded wasn't a thing. But going outside to chop wood definitely was. When I said I couldn't wait to grow up and move out, you showed me the reality of what it actually entailed. You showed me how much bills really cost, how much I'd have to work to pay them, and what parts of town I could afford to live in. I'd roll my eyes. It didn't matter, I still couldn't wait.
Then a short few years later, I turned 16. And boy, oh, boy was I excited to drive. There wasn't anything in the world that could stop me. Except you. Of course. Why couldn't you just buy me my first car like all the other kids in school? "Because you won't respect something that you didn't work for," you said. Why would you think that? I just want to have a nice car! But, as usual, you didn't give me the easy way out. Instead, you made a deal with me. As soon as I got myself a job, you'd let me get my license. Great. OK, I did what you said. You're kidding. Now I have to pay for my own car too? Figures. I just couldn't win. I guess you were right, though, I took much better care of the car. Though I still don't necessarily agree, now I understand.
Finally, I'm 18. High School Graduation night. As I throw my cap in the air, it all feels so bittersweet. Mom, Dad, I love you guys. Thanks for pushing me to be the best I can be. But, can we start packing already? I've signed the lease to my new apartment a couple towns away. Moving can't come soon enough. I can't wait. I seriously can't wait.
Three months later, I'm sitting at home in my apartment. I have my first semester of college classes beginning in a few hours. I have a steady job. I have my own apartment. My own car. I did it. I'm living on my own. I can't believe it, and you know what? I am so grateful. Mom, Dad, thank you. Thank you for not taking it easy on me. Because the world won't take it easy on me. Thank you for showing me a taste of reality and not sugar coating it. Because the world sure as heck hasn't sugar coated it. Thank you for pushing me to be able to do things for myself. Because no one else is going to do it for me.
I know I may not have liked you then, but now that I understand, I am so grateful. Without your constant push for me to work hard and do things myself, I wouldn't be where I'm at in life today. Thanks for everything. I love you two.