Dear Mom,

I achieve as a father because of you. It’s that simple.

Not to take anything away from Dad, who has been a loving and supportive superstar father every single step of my life. He is a beautiful soul and a guiding star. He is my rock. I’m grateful you found each other.

But your unconditional love I know now is the primary reason I have been able to make the most out of my circumstances and become a one-of-a-kind parent to my daughter. Your influence has shaped my parenting style in countless ways, many of which I am still just starting to understand.

As a single parent household, I am completely on my own⁠—which is different in some ways from your experience. I am responsible for all parenting tasks from the day-to-day caretaking activities to the emotional development. My child needs me to be well-rounded and I expect to comprehensively deliver 100% as a parent, not only as a father.

Obviously, you didn’t raise me in anticipation of my single parent status.

You just needed to make me feel like I was the greatest gift of your life.

You knew everything else would naturally fall out of that. And it did.

Like many mothers and fathers, I was worried initially that I might not be able to provide the care my daughter needed to feel happy and secure. But my nurturing instincts kicked in effortlessly. More recently, and with 10 years of parenting under my belt, I now have come to realize that your influence is the foundation of my love and dedication as a parent.

How do I know this? Here’s what I can tell you⁠—

You taught me the importance of expressing my emotions by showing your own.

You communicated that your family is your heartbeat through actions, not just words.

You taught me to be a kind and compassionate human by never talking poorly about anyone.

You always looked in my eyes and smiled at me.

You forced me to kiss and hug you when I didn’t want to.

You sometimes got upset with me but always took the time to explain your rationale (and you knew to cool off before you did).

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You were always accountable for your actions and apologized if the situation required it.

You treated me no differently from your daughters and just imparted what you believed to be winning characteristics of a successful mother.

You never overstepped, and made me understand that knowing right versus wrong was the principal guide I required to be a good person; and that everything else would follow.

You showed me the qualities of a strong woman so I would know how to treat women with admiration and respect.

You demonstrated that being a mother was your favorite thing in the world.

You did a little bit of everything. And a lot of anything!

Most importantly, you taught me how to be a good mother, not just a good parent.

Let me be clear. None of what I’m expressing has to do with gender roles. None of that matters. I am merely disclosing that my achievements as a father/parent have so much to do with the example you set for me, and still do to this day. The impact was that significant.

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So why do I share this?

Let’s be honest. It’s hard to know if we, as parents, are doing the right thing and making a difference in the lives of our children. I deal with this conflict and doubt on a daily basis⁠—and I know a majority of parents do, too. I appreciate when others tell me I’m doing a good job.

So now it is my turn, Mom, to share this message with other parents and let them know they are doing an incredible job!

Whether you thought you did things right or wrong, you have inspired me. I hope I can offer a new perspective that other mothers and fathers will appreciate⁠—as a grown son of an adoring mother⁠—and share it broadly through my narratives.

It is undoubtedly about intention and effort. You taught me there is no perfection in motherhood.

Ultimately, we must lean on love to give us the confidence we regularly need to be happy being a mother or father and, especially, to endure the struggles of parenthood.

Love is never one-sided.

I trust that the choices I make and the feelings I express are being used to shape a life for the better.

Thank you, Mom. You still make me feel like I was the greatest gift of your life.

This post originally appeared on the author’s blog

Damon Darienzo

Damon Darienzo is a Boston-based part time freelance writer who blogs very candidly about his experiences and insights as a man and single father. The core of his narratives are about the importance of personal expression and action to facilitate human connection as part of one’s pursuit of happiness. He hopes to offer valuable perspectives that will inspire others to invest more in their relationships. You can read more of his work at www.singledadmagic.com and are encouraged to follow him on Instagram and Facebook.