01/16/2014 05:18 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

To My Parents on My 30th Birthday

Recently, a tragedy shook our community. A beloved father and husband died unexpectedly, leaving four amazing children and a wonderful wife behind. Having taught these children, I was absolutely heartbroken for them. But as a relatively new parent, I was shaken to the core. It hit me pretty hard, and forced me to take a long, hard look at my own life, and the life I am creating for my daughter. At the memorial service, I was speaking to a parent of another former student describing how, in the last 15 months, my perspective on life has completely changed. You see, when my daughter was born, my life took on a meaning that it didn't have before.

I now live utterly and entirely for her.

Every decision I make is based on what will be best for her, and to say she is my top priority even sounds trivial as to how important she is to me. I know this isn't a new concept to seasoned parents, but I still consider myself new to this whole "mom" thing.

When my daughter's first birthday was approaching, I began to realize that birthdays are just as much about the parents as they are about the child. Now, as my 30th birthday is approaching, I can't help but feel the need to stop and thank my parents for living utterly and entirely for me.

I've read several articles lately about turning 30. (I'm having that strange phenomenon where everything that I read seems to be about 30th birthdays. It must be the same as when someone says the color red and suddenly it's all you see.) Most of what I've read has had something to do with some sort of bucket list, being "okay" with where you are in life, or learning to embrace every moment. I have definitely had those thoughts as well, but none are as overwhelming as how I feel towards my parents on my birthday, after having become a parent myself.

For 30 years, I have been their priority. I have caused them to worry, been the reason for many tears, and (hopefully) brought countless smiles to their faces. I've grown into the woman I am today because of their guidance. As accomplished as I feel at 30, they should feel twice that.

Parenting is not easy, and they've done it 10,950 consecutive days for me. And for that, I am more grateful than they will ever know.