Parker read my dumpster fire article. The kid, tough as nails, does have some shame and it seemed to hurt his feelings.
“How would you like it if I embarrassed you, mom, in front of everyone?”
The irony was not lost on him. I’m going to leave the article up as a reminder. But for now I’m going to turn my focus and highlight the bright side of Parker.
Each year I write my kids a birthday letter. It’s a recap of the milestones they achieved during the past year, and events that happened in our family and how that relates to them. Most of all it is an expression of my love.
On their 18th birthday I gather up all of those birthday letters and hand them over. Bryce loved reading his letters so much on his 18th birthday that he wanted me to continue writing them. So, I’ve written five additional birthday letters for him, and probably will until my hands stop working.
I’m grateful that you are mine. From the time you arrived in my life you’ve been beautiful. I remember in the hospital shortly after you were born, when the staff nurse would check on you she would say, in her deep Southern accent, “Good Mornin’, Mr. Parker”. She could see the amazing spirit you had from the moment you entered the world.
My favorite times with you are when we are alone together. You have so many questions and insights to share. It’s hard for me to fully focus on all you have to say when your siblings are vying for my attention, but when it’s just you and me, and you share your insights, I know you are trying to connect with me in your way.
One of my favorites is when you come up to me with your phone, and you say something like “Ma, you gotta see this. It’s hilarious.” Most of the time you’re right; it is very funny. You’ve always had a great sense of humor. BUT… because I’m your mom… I have to police you a little bit about what you’re laughing at. Because if your mom isn’t your moral compass, who will be?
Honestly, Park. This year has been a rough one. You’re soooooo ready to be an adult, but you are walking a fine line between needing me, wanting my money, and insisting on your independence. And I’m walking that fine line with you.
We brought you back to San Antonio so you could stop living on the road, but it’s at a high cost to our family. We are trying to set you up as well as we can. I’m scared that things are going to be harder for you than you expect them to be. You have been alone for five days, but this will be for months.
I have you set up for online grocery orders and delivery. I’ve found you a job coach and put everything in place for you to get your adult life started. We’ve practiced cooking and mowing the lawn and washing the dishes and doing laundry and getting the mail. The next step is up to you.
I hope you work for a while and figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life. Auntie thinks you should set up a booth at a farmer’s market selling something (anything). I think you should work with animals. I remember how calm you were with grandma’s horses and they were calm with you (unlike claw hands with Pooper).
I love your love pats. I loved them more when they weren’t used to manipulate me, but they’re still great. I love your curly hair. I love the gross mole with the inch long hairs that you won’t let me shave because it “hurts” ~ I don’t love that it hurts, just that it makes you a little bit more human.
I love watching you watch yourself make funny faces in the mirror while you talk to yourself. I love how embarrassed you get when I ask who you’re talking to.
As I mentioned earlier, this has been a big year for you! We lived in four different places: Charleston, West Valley City, Salt Lake City, and San Antonio. That’s a lot.
You continued with your online school throughout all the moves and maintained a high GPA. We did summer school last year to get your credits ahead so that you could graduate early.
Parker, you did it! You graduated two weeks ago. I’m proud and relieved that we made it! This is your key to independence. As much as you wanted to give up at times, you persevered, and you have a high school diploma to show for it. Or you will in a couple weeks.
I’m a little bit sad that we’re coming to the end of the constant connection we’ve shared for 18 years.
I keep thinking how boring my life will be when we’re not living together all the time. You bring us so much laughter (sometimes nervous laughter, sometimes embarrassed laughter). I know we’ll all miss it.
Parker, I love you so so much. My love for you will never change, only grow. I’m exicted to see you soar with your new independence.
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