A Letter To: Mom and Dad on Their Birthdays

From the day I was born, you’ve always told me how much you love and appreciate me. But as I’m sitting here today, as both of your latest birthdays have come and gone, I’m starting to realize that I may not have told you just how much I love and appreciate you enough in my life. And so, since I was too broke to buy you anything real this weekend present-wise, my gift to you for now is gratitude. Sure, it’s cheap regarding actual money, but if you ever see this, hopefully it will be priceless regarding sentimental value.


First of all, thank you both for being you.

Everyday, you two face the world while hiding nothing. Mom, you don’t care if it’s 90 degrees outside and everyone else is wearing shorts and spaghetti straps. If you’re cold, you always wear pants and a jacket no matter what the rest of society, including your family, does, and you don’t give a crap what anyone thinks about it. And, dad, you never care if people think you’re too quiet or too harsh or not graceful enough or whatever. You know who you really are, and to you, that’s all that matters. With everything both of you do at all times, you’re perfectly confident in yourselves about it, and I thank you for that.

Why? Well, because, as you both know, I struggle with that whole confidence thing from time to time. It’s the reason why I find it so hard to share my work with others, the reason why I still can’t legally drive, the reason why I rarely tell others no if it’s easy just to tell them yes; I simply don’t always have the confidence to not care what other people think about the things I do. But what confidence I do have, you both have shown me how to have it through your everyday actions. And without that, without what you do day to day, I would honestly be nothing, for I would’ve been too scared to have ever even left the house. And by ever, I mean ever. Like, no kindergarten or nothing.

But even in the confidence you show on a daily basis, even in the confidence that has made me into a generally stronger person, you still have moments where you lose it and become unsure of yourselves, just like every other human being out there, and I thank you for those times, too. Even though you both try to hide them, afraid of what my sister and I will think about a “weakness,” we still see them, and it’s a good thing that we do; they show us that it’s okay to be unsure of yourself at times, that we’re just people and therefore can never be fully confident in anything that ever happens around us. They reassure us that we aren’t just weak, helpless freaks, that we can overcome anything in order to be who we really want to be.

So, all in all, by you both being you and always embracing how you feel every single day of your lives, you have indirectly taught me to also be me and to also try to always embrace myself every single day of my own life. And I thank you for that, for it’s helped me to not care about a lot of things that just really don’t matter, which has helped a lot — more than you can ever know, actually.

Second of all, thank you for putting up with me.

I’m a freak. I know it. I have medical issues, everything from life-threatening allergies to a heart murmur to pigeon-toed feet. I have confidence problems, as we just addressed. I’m borderline obsessive compulsive with my organization — as well as everyone else’s. Sometimes, I can be a bit of a control maniac, which is why I don’t always do well in non-leadership positions. I’m also too nice, and due to a ridiculous imagination, I’m kind of a little eccentric at times. Oh, and both of your dramatic dispositions have rubbed off onto my gene pool, too; it’s great for writing but definitely not stressful situations.

But you’ve always loved me despite all of this. Now, you may say that that’s just your job as a parent, but, technically speaking, it’s really not. Lots of people could have easily just yelled at me when I was too loud or told me to suck it up when I was ailing, but you guys never did. You loved me for me despite me, and that’s really helped me out a lot; instead of seeing all of the above as weird abnormalities (even though I know deep down that they are), I see them as character. (Maybe that’s due some to the whole confidence thing above, too.) And that’s helped me with a lot in life, especially with getting through middle and high school. Good Lord, those years could have been a lot worse without said embracing!

So I thank you for accepting my freakishness, for it’s taught me to accept it, as well.

Third of all, thank you for fighting.

Okay, so this one’s a bit awkward…

Well, it’s no secret between the four of us (as in the both of you, your eldest daughter/my big sister Bekah, and myself) that you two have always fought quite a lot. I believe it’s due to you both having very stubborn personalities rather than a lack of love for each other, which is a good thing to know; it helps make witnessing them a little easier.

Growing up, I hated it when you guys fought (and still do, by the way). Every time one of you would get mad and start yelling at the other, it just felt wrong. And due to our small home, even when you went behind closed doors to hash it out (or sent us behind them instead), we always heard what was going on.

Sorry, but you’re both pretty freaking loud.

So, growing up, your problems were never secrets.

Well, you could have easily done like almost every other married couple out there and not said anything at all about what was wrong, just sitting there and wallowing in your misery, letting the “problems” get so bad that they eventually become real problems that lead to nothing but divorce — all in the name of not letting the kids hear. But instead, you communicated. And while it may have been really awkward or embarrassing or scary that we heard this communication — and that it was mainly through yelling and door-slamming (yes, even when we were in public, harrumph) — it has taught me a lot, like that talking it out is important. And that you should never let petty stuff get to you. And that you should see both sides of a story, always. And that you should stay calm and listen even when you’re really ticked.

The list could honestly go on and on.

I think the biggest thing I’ve learned from witnessing your many fights, though, is how to both love and be loved; in it, this weird thing that is love, gentility, kindness, and understanding keeps the peace best, but you also cannot let peacekeeping and maintenance allow for yourself to be walked on. Love is about existing as one with another, not about turning the other into you. And so you have to keep an open mind, have to be understanding. But you also have to, at times, stand your ground. And so, eventually, a fight will happen (because every personality will, at one point, clash), and that is okay; just as long as it gets hashed out, it is all okay.

One thing I will definitely do differently, though, when I am married is hash it out a little more quietly… Just saying.

Fourth of all, thank you for never quitting.

Even when times were tough, you both were strong. You stuck with it, kept working hard, and things eventually paid off. Life is good, and it’s all thanks to your hard work. I’ve seen that first hand. I mean, just take our home as one example of the many things you’ve never quit on. It used to be hideous, thanks be to the 1980s. But after lots of time and dedication and work, you’ve turned that weird atrocity into our adorable bungalow — a bungalow that all of my friends envy, by the way.

So your constant hard work and dedication to everything in your lives has shown me to also work hard and stay dedicated, for that’s the only way one becomes successful. I think I need to thank you most for this, actually, for without you doing so, I’d most likely be nothing more than a bum on the side of the road right now; there were many times I could have easily given up, but you not giving up motivated me to not do so, either. So thanks. I really owe you there. 🙂

Fifth of all, thank you for all the little things.

This one could also double as, “Thank you for loving me,” for doing small things for me all my life really just shows me that. And when we have our problems, it’s definitely something nice to fall back on.

By little things, though, I mean all of the stupid toys and clothes and souvenirs and stuffed animals and candies, etc. that you’ve wasted your money on from when we were mere infants until now as well as letting us do all the silly things we thought were fun. You could’ve said no all the time to them (for, really, what’s their purpose?), but you didn’t. You let us have our fun, whether it was through the pack of gum we wanted or the urge to go outside and play hopscotch we were really feeling, and it’s showed us how to stop and smell the roses and enjoy life. So thank you.

Sixth of all, thank you for paying for college.

Sure, you’re not paying for all of it, but what you are paying for is a huge help to the soon-to-be-poor me. So major shouts for this. Major shouts — although, I’m sure things would be a little different if scholarships and such weren’t in play. But still, I owe you big time, and one day, when I’m rich and famous, I’ll pay you back. With a beautiful, old home. That has a wrap-around front porch. Right outside of Orlando. And season passes to Disney. And that Lotus. Green, right?

I promise.

Hey, I can dream, right?

Speaking of which, seventh of all, thank you for showing me how to dream.

You both have wild fantasies that you speak about almost every single day. And while, dad, yours are mostly about custom cars and racing and one day opening a restaurant, and, mom, yours are mostly about finally getting to stay at home and just do whatever the heck you want with your life, they both are pretty wild dreams, nonetheless. (Haha, sorry if that sounds rude!) And it’s shown me that I should aim for my dreams — as well as never stop dreaming — too. You’ve shown me that dreaming is totally okay, whether or not everyone else around agrees, and so, I’m going to keep at it. Always. It’s a goal to work for, a motivation to keep dedicated, and it will pay off.

Like I said, that house and that car will be in your future.

Eighth of all, thank you for all of my flaws and imperfections, both inside and out.

Yes, the entirety of me, both inside and out, is due entirely to you both having wonderful yet also horrendous gene pools. But even so, I thank you for it, for you’ve made a pretty awesome kid with them, if I do say so myself.

But let’s just hope that I don’t end up with your hair genes, mom. And your digestive genes, dad. Or your thyroid, mom. I do hope I get your metabolism, though, dad, for I’d love to end up really skinny. And thanks a million for all the freckles, mom. People seem to like them. And thanks to both of you for my artsy-ness. Yeah, people also seem to like that.

Ninth of all, thank you for all the lame catchphrases.

I find myself wowing someone every single day with one of your old sayings, and it’s awesome. Really, as annoying as they are at times from you (sorry…), they come in handy in everyday life a lot. So thank you much, for I seem a lot more wise than I really am because of them!

They’re also wonderful things to base stories off of. Just thought I’d throw that in there.

Tenth of all, thank you for the many vacations.

This is something we talk about often. You guys could have easily saved all your money so we could be “rich” and move into a bigger home and so you guys could retire a little bit younger, but you never did. Instead, you chose to take Bekah and I on trips and vacations, and it was because you both believe that seeing the world and getting cultured and making memories is worth more than any amount of physical, monetary wealth could ever be. And I have to agree. Without all those trips, sure, I’d be a heck of a lot richer (thanks to you both being a heck of a lot richer), but I’d also be really empty and unhappy thanks to an un-fillable void. And I’d also be a lot dumber. So thank you for spending your money and taking the family on trips. It’s meant more to me than you’ll ever know.

Which reminds me of my eleventh of all: Thank you for all the money lessons.

Yes, dad, I know you like saving money, especially when the funds are down. And, yes, mom, I know you like spending money, even when the funds are down. And, yes, these two clashing likes have definitely led to some conflicts over time.

But in the end, both of you have showed me one very important thing regarding money: It’s worthless. Sure, it gets you stuff, but at the end of the day, it’s just a concept made up by society in order to make bartering a little bit easier. Yes, at the end of the day, money doesn’t even really exist — is actually really nothing at all — and so it is okay to spend it. Or save it. Or light it on fire. It really doesn’t matter.

And that helps a lot with the thought of the very low salary I will be making in a few years. As a side note, thanks for supporting me and my want to write even despite that.

😀

Twelfth of all, thank you for hating your jobs.

On a daily basis, you guys try to act like you’re content with where you’re at work-wise even though you don’t like what you’re doing, but you’re not fooling me. You guys hate your jobs, have always really hated your jobs, and it’s because you’re doing things you don’t love. Now, I can’t tell you what you should be doing instead, for every time I ask you both about your dreams and what work would make you happy, I never get a straight up answer. But I can tell you that your hatred of the corporate life has taught me to never settle. Ever. Which is partly why I quit my first real job (real as in ‘I’m finally not a sales associate’) a few months ago. It was awful and I hated it. And while I could have stuck with it for the experience, you two coming home every day miserable has shown me that no experience is worth it. Happiness is what matters in life if you truly plan on living (rather than simply existing), and one of the biggest keys to happiness for the average bear is finding a job that provides said happiness (since we work for basically our entire lives). So, thanks entirely to you two hating your jobs, I have made it a goal to not hate mine. And if I do, I will quit. Who cares if it leaves me poor? Money doesn’t even exist anyway! So thanks, for you’re helping me avoid the mistake that too many people make.

And, finally, thank you for caring so much that you don’t care at all.

Sorry for the oxymoron, but it’s the only way I can accurately describe this. For my entire life, you’ve loved Bekah and I so much that you wanted nothing more than for us to thrive and bloom and blossom into our own beings. And so, you let us go. You didn’t care.

If we wanted to try a sport, you let us try it. If it didn’t work out, you let us quit (just as long as we stuck it out for long enough, of course, a great way to teach a kid a lesson or two). If we wanted pancakes at dinnertime and dinner had not yet been made, then you made pancakes at dinnertime. If we didn’t want whatever you already cooked, however, then that was that. We didn’t want it? Our loss. You made it seem like you didn’t care, but you did; you really wanted to step in and force-feed us, but deep down you knew that we would eat eventually when we got too hungry. So you let us suffer for a little because you loved us and wanted us to learn to not be complete idiots. Likewise, if we had a big test that we studied our butts off for yet didn’t get A’s on, then it was always met by you guys with a loving, “So what?” It was just a grade and thus meant nothing regarding what we were actually worth. We tried our hardest, and that was all that mattered, giving it our all. Who cared if our all wasn’t technically good enough?

It’s a wonderful way to live, loving and caring so much that you let go and simply keep an eye on things from a distance. It has taught me a great deal about life, and I am 99.99999% sure that I will use the same tactic to raise my kids — as well as do everything else I’ll need to from here on out.

And the .00001% of uncertainty that remains has entirely to do with the fact that I’m not sure if I’ll even live past this next second in order to be able to keep executing this style of life you’ve shown me.

So, basically, unless I die, I’m living exactly the way you raised me, because it’s awesome. And I thank you a million times over for it.


Now, there’s a whole lot more that I could thank you for, but I honestly just don’t have the time to continue; I would very literally go on forever and ever and ever if I did, so consider these to be the most important things that you’ve done for me. I think they can all be grouped under one general phrase, though: raising me right.

So, to sum this up, thank you for simply raising me right.

And, of course, thank you, also, for every single other thing you’ve ever done for me and Bekah. We both love you from the very bottoms of our hearts, and we’ll see you tonight when you get home from work.

Love you much, stay safe, and Happy Birthday. ❤ ❤
-Leah

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