Every year, my sisters and I write you a letter. We put it in “The Mom Book,” a pink bound journal that collects years of Mother’s Days. Every year, I try to think of new ideas and new ways to appreciate you. I try to think of new ways to thank you. I know I don’t thank you as often as I should.
Mom, you taught me about love.
When I auditioned for a production of Spring Awakening my freshman year of college, they asked me how my parents gave me the sex talk. I had to be honest and tell them that no one ever talked to me about sex. You talked to me about feelings. You told me that loving someone with your body is an extension of loving them with your mind. You told me that intimacy means something because my body is worth something.
When any of your friends tells you how beautiful I am, you make sure to tell them that I am more beautiful on the inside. They can see how I look, but looking at me won’t let them know how I am taking charge of my life or how I am exploring my academic interests. You always tell me that it’s more important for me to look at my inner beauty. You always tell me that my heart is beautiful before you make any comments about my body.
When a teacher told another mother that her daughter was a “bright girl” at parent-teacher conferences, I wondered whether she expressed the same sentiment to you. You told me that my self-worth was not defined by a subject I hated. It didn’t matter who saw it, because you knew how smart I was. You knew how hard I had to work. You taught me not to define myself by other people’s perceptions of my intelligence, but by my own passions.
When I’m upset, you always remind me to take a step back. You know that I hold myself to high, and sometimes unrealistic, standards. I often feel like a small inconvenience, whether it be a bad grade or a confusing assignment, will be the end of the world. You’re always there to tell me that the world isn’t ending, that there are so many wonderful things in life, and that those happy moments far outnumber the roadblocks along the way. You taught me that my life is worth loving because it’s the only one I’m going to get.
Mom, you taught me about love. You taught me when to hold onto it and when to let it go. You held me in your arms and wished that you could have carried the pain for me the first time I dealt with a broken heart. You empower me in every aspect of life. You are my example of strength, my constant role model, and my support system. I can’t imagine what life might have been like without you.
I’m lucky that I never had to.
I want every girl to have the same level of support you gave me. I want every girl to be able to reach their potential. That’s why I write for LiveYourDream. Not every girl has a mom like you, but every girl can deserves to have a role model to lift them up. I can help them. After all, I learned from the best.
— Your daughter.
Leana Reich is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying Cultural and Linguistic Anthropology. She loves to explore cities, particularly by way of coffee shops and museums, and doesn’t properly understand how lucky she is to have lived at the beach her entire life. She does understand how lucky she is to have such an amazing mom as a role model and appreciates her every day.