This is it. Nothing really prepares a parent for this. Because even though turning 18 disguises itself as being the age of adulthood, I would argue that 16 is the actual number. A kid becomes more independent. They start to drive. They can have a job. It's really an important age.
Tyler is about to hit that milestone. In about an hour, he will be 16 years old. Where the hell did the time go?
For those that don't know, Tyler was born when I was 17. I was still in high school. And although these "teen mom" stories don't always have a happy ending, I know that mine did. He taught me how to be tough. He taught me that I can be a person others can depend on. He taught me to be less selfish. He helped me grow into the woman and the mother that I am today. (And I'm really sorry for the dorky pants in the following picture, Tyler. But I had dorky hair and glasses, so we're even.)
It gives me a great feeling when I watch him show such compassion towards his siblings. He says "come 'ere" when they're upset and gives them big hugs. He plays basketball with his brothers. He wrestles them to the ground. He makes them laugh. He helped me do Mallory's cares when she first came home from the hospital and Frank was traveling. Hell, the kid has learned how to suction a trach. He does randomly wonderful things like brings me home a bag of popcorn he thinks is the best popcorn he's ever eaten from his school or will buy me a bag of Skittles, for no reason at all. Despite the hard time I may give him, he really is shaping up to be a well rounded, compassionate and intelligent young man.
I have to give some credit to the guy that helped bring him here too. We've had our ups and downs over the years but we've always kept a pretty good relationship. At the end of the day, we can talk to each other, work with each other and come up with a good plan to help Tyler in any way possible. With out him, Tyler wouldn't be here. I am very thankful for both of them. For Tyler's dad, Chris, thank you for being his dad, for always being there for him and always making him your #1. Despite our parenting style differences at times, I think we've managed to raise a pretty great kid!
I also want to thank my husband, Frank. He's been an excellent step parent for Tyler. He's been a guy Tyler can go to for advice. He's been a guy who will keep it real for Tyler. He's shown him how to mow a lawn and taught him that reading is a good way to pass time. He's been a guy who keeps me sane when these teenage years have made me bonkers!!
In my opinion, Tyler couldn't ask for two better role models in his life. Each has different life experiences and different things to offer. All which can benefit Tyler as he grows into the great man I know he'll be!
So, I just want to say that I'm so very proud of Tyler! I love laughing with him, arguing with him (sometimes!) and watching him get life all figured out! I want to wish him the happiest 16th birthday ever! I hope it'll be a day he remembers forever! I love you, kiddo!!!
That said, I'm just going to share a bunch of my favorite photos!!
Happy, happy, happy 16th Birthday, Tyler!! You were where life really began for me! I love you and I'm very proud to call you my son!
(And yes, he's too cool to not wear the sunglasses!)