An Open Letter to My Parents

March 28, 2020

Dear Mom and Dad,

Can you believe today is the day? 30 years ago, you brought me into the world. I love birthdays. I believe whole heartily that every single person on earth should be celebrated. That’s a pretty beautiful belief isn’t it?

30 years. THIRTY YEARS. I think it’s a big day for me but I know it’s a bigger day for you. This is the day your life yet again, changed. You had the responsibility of another child. Another being to share your love, attention and life with. Another child to teach patience, kindness, tenderness and truth too.

Here I am. Standing tall and in my own two feet with strong beliefs of kindness and infinite worth.

30 years ago was probably a pretty scary day, for you. Bringing into the world a fourth child and your first girl. Was it scary? Did you worry?…

-Maybe she will do ballet, how would that go over and who would practice with her?

-Maybe she won’t like playing outside…but who will stay inside with her?

-What happens when she accidentally kills a goldfish and lies about it, will she get a spanking or is that life lesson already enough to learn the importance of honesty??

-What happens when she gets her first crush and first broken heart?

-How will I raise her to feel comfortable talking to me?

-How can I help her to be the best that she can be?

I imagine you had thousands of wonderings leading up to this day.

Hell, you probably still do have wonderings that are closely related to predictions, fears or uncertainties.

If you ever found yourself wondering these things let me put your mind at ease with the answers…

-who will she marry? …It doesn’t matter. I’m a strong, confident, and independent individual and IF I meet the person I choose to spend the rest of my life with…you can be confident that they too are strong and confident individuals. You never have to worry about things like that. You raised me to be strong, independent, educated, personable, sincere and ever growing. Let that ease your mind and heart.

-Does she keep things from us? Ignorance is bliss. Isn’t that the truth? However, there isn’t much I keep from you.

-Does she know we did our best? Absolutely.

-Why isn’t she home with family? I’m doing what you’ve always wanted me to do. I’m being happy.

-Is she happy? Guilty.

-Does she know when we are unhappy? You see right through me. I don’t need to say a word and you see my heart. It is your superpower. Here’s the kicker, it’s also my superpower.

While this is a big day for me, it’s a bigger day for you. 30 years ago, you brought into the word a healthy baby girl.

Today you still have a healthy baby girl.

Here’s what I think you might not know…I see you. I always have and I always will.

Here are just a few of life’s lessons that you’ve helped me learn. You can try to guess who guided me through the ugliness to learn the harshness and beauty of the word…but chances are you will see what I’ve always known. You have made the best team. You have navigated a beautifully broken ship through parenting in the toughest of seas.

I imagine every day, you wake up trying to catch your breath, wondering if your ship is under water. Some days it I know it would be easier if the ship just went down. Gasping for breath, each morning- will it be water or air that fills your lungs?…Thank you for always choosing air when it would be easier to drown.

Life lessons:

  • Strong people do hard things.
  • Just say okay.
  • Make the decision or it will be made for you.
  • 3s never work.
  • It doesn’t get easier.
  • 75% of people won’t meet your fancy (to say it nicely).
  • Drive safe. Be smart.
  • Don’t settle.
  • Never get into a car with someone who is drinking.
  • Nothing good happens after dark.
  • If it seems too good to be true then it probably is.
  • One step at a time.
  • Head up shoulders back.
  • People prove themselves (guilty).
  • When in doubt, mad, or anything but calm-don’t talk.
  • Walk away.
  • Don’t lock the keys in the car-but ALWAYS lock the car AND take everything out of the car because if you leave ANYTHING inside someone WILL break into your vehicle.
  • Walk. Get outside and walk. It is good for the heart.
  • When you need to have a serious talk with someone, just say, “let’s go on a ride” and get in the car and go.

These are just a few that come to mind off the top of my head.

Sit back, relax and breathe. You did good.

Some traits embedded in me came from your undefeated tag team parenting and some of these traits I’ve gathered in the past 30 years and I’m hoping to plant seeds of hope in you.

  • I help people and I bring happiness to people. So do you.
  • I love driving with the windows down and whistling.
  • I am determined and challenge myself.
  • I love flowers, squirrels, Nebraska, sports, music, animals, sunshine, rain, the ocean, rainbows, cars, fishing and people. I have a genuine love for life, not found in many people. Rare species that can only be described as a “Binger”.
  • I believe that people do not have to be where they come from. Although it is a STRONG predictor…I dedicate my life to giving children (or anyone who needs them) the tools necessary to be resilient, strong, kind and find light in dark places.
  • I’m a teacher of so much more than academics. I hold children to high expectations and guide them through life lessons much like parents do.
  • You can add all things beautiful into an equation with the best of intentions and the answer might surprise you, it might still be everything you never wanted.  It’s nobodies fault. Some things don’t end up the way you hoped, no matter how hard you work. It has nothing to do with you.
  • You can’t change other people.
  • I know people and lives are not comparable. Comparison is a root of evil that will take your happiness if you let it.
  • Every single person you meet is doing the best they can with what they have.
  • A person will do what they are going to do whether you are there or not. You cannot blame yourself.
  • Don’t put out into the world something that you don’t want to get back.
  • The meanest people need the most love. They are the ones with the deepest pain.
  • For Pete’s sake just be nice.
  • Life isn’t fair. Never was and never will be. Do your best anyways.
  • Things won’t (always) be easy. STRONG people do hard things.
  • Bad things happen to good people. How you react and what you do next is your choice.

Sometimes when we hang up the phone, I cry. I know that one day you won’t call me anymore and one day when I need advice, you won’t be there to give it to me. When I think about that, it nearly kills me. I have to work really hard to bring myself back to the present, to right here and right now before a clam moment turns into a panic attack because life without you is a painful thought and a dreadful, fearful, worry.

I’m sure you vividly remember moments in these past 30 years where I have said hurtful things to you. You may not remember what I said, but I’m sure you remember the way it made you feel and I’m sorry for that.

I want to take this moment to tell you, thank you. I want you to know that you are loved greatly and deeply and appreciated beyond words.

  • Thank you for loving me and supporting me.
  • Thank you for always doing more and being more, for me.
  • Thank you for letting me make mistakes that you knew were in the making even thought it killed you to see me hurt.
  • Thank you for teaching me to: ride a bike, drive a car&motorcycle, fish, change the oil, cook chicken, diagnose illness, break a fever, take care of living things and how to love without boundaries.  From watching you I have learned: the value in work, education, maintaining things you care about and own whether it be relationships or vehicles, being responsible and taking care of yourself, paying off debt, helping people and doing the things you say you will do…Being brave when you’re scared, being calm in emergency situations, never giving up, and saying sorry when you need to. You have taught me great things just by being you.
  • Thank you for correcting my papers and doing math homework with me.
  • Thank you for never missing one of my games and playing catch with me.
  • Thank you for letting me crush the cranberries and husk the corn.
  • Thank you for allowing the people I love and have in my life, enter into our home and come to our BBQ’s and be treated like family.
  • Thank you for showing me the value in relationships and family and always making ours work.
  • Thank you for reading to me every night.
  • Thank you for bringing me into the world, laughing with me, crying with me and helping me become the person I am today.

You once said, “the only thing a parent wants for a child is to see them happy”. That is all I want for you. I want to see you happy. When does it become a wash, when do we just shake hands and come to an agreement to JUST BE HAPPY? I deserve to be happy. No more or no less than the next person. As do you. Every single person on earth deserves to be happy, healthy, free and safe. The only way to do that is from the inside out.

I’m doing it. Are you?

I hope that today you can look back, reflect and let out a sigh of relief. I hope that today as people celebrate me and I celebrate you, that you celebrate all that you have accomplished with this human life that started 30 years ago.

You brought to life a girl who makes the world a better place. A girl who feels the emotions of life and is ever changing and growing into a better person.

You succeeded.

Now, my wish, do what you’ve always dreamed of, whatever it is.

This is your time and your life, I’m living mine too.

I love you. I admire you and I am proud to have come from 100% Nebraska grown, smart, loving, supportive parents.

Be still mama and dad.

Look at the flowers starting to pop. Remember what leads you to tears, will bring you to grace. Your pain is never wasted.

Smile into the sunshine.

Every time you feel the sunshine, let it warm your heart and know that you are warming mine.

When you see the moon, think of me and know that I am thinking of you too.

With love,

Your baby girl,

Rachel Ann.

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