Thank you, Mom, for introducing me to the arts at such a young age. I realize all of the sacrifices you made as a single mother so we could do amazing things. The ballet will forever remind me of you. I named my daughters “Gisele” and “Aurora” after two of my favorite heroines; I wanted to honor the bond you and I have—in the hopes that I’ll have a similar one with my girls. 

Thank you for giving me the freedom to be myself, even if it meant letting me be “Dorothy” for a couple of months, turning the living room into a gymnastics floor on countless occasions, or marrying at 23. 

You taught me to enjoy working hard. I watched you leave the house at the crack of dawn my entire life, and I was always so proud of you.

Lauren Liess (center) at home in Virginia with her mother, Donna (left), and grandmother Patricia (right)
Photo: Jeremy Cowart; Hair and Makeup Styling: Bailey Renee/Directions USA; Wardrobe Styling: Harman Dhillon/Directions USA

Thank you for your stubbornness, which helped me develop mine. Those knock-down, drag-out fights we had when I was a teen made me stronger. And thank you for your forgiveness. We’ve apologized countless times, and I’m grateful for our ability to always make up and move on without any scars.

Thank you for your open-mindedness—you are the least judgmental person I know. You’ve been there for me and for my friends as “that mom” they could talk to, spending Friday nights staying up late with us in the kitchen.

Thank you for putting me first. I know how hard it must have been to look for love a second time while having me there, demanding your attention. You married someone who loves me like his own, and you gave me a sister.

Thank you for always speaking respectfully of my father. Being a child of divorced parents can be painful at times, but you minimized it for me as much as possible. My heart mattered more than your need to vent or lean on me. I know that took incredible strength and resolve.

I know you think that I’m completely independent and fine on my own—and most of the time I am. But no one else can give me the hug that makes me feel better when it seems like things are crumbling all around me. And I thank you for that more than anything, because to this day, you holding me gives me that same feeling—an exhale, a warmth, a love so strong it doesn’t have words—as it did when I was a little girl. 

Lauren Liess is an interior designer and author of Habitat: The Field Guide to Decorating (Abrams). Her new HGTV show, Best House on the Block, will air this year. She lives in Virginia with her husband and their five children.