Angel here.  I remember growing up my mother telling me how hard it was to raise my brothers.  I laughed when she shared stories.  I'm not sure any amount of schooling, storytelling, or book reading could have prepared me for raising teenage boys.

Yesterday we celebrated my son Parker's 17th birthday.  I still remember finding out I was pregnant.  An unmarried, senior in college, and completely caught off guard.

I mean not totally.  I knew what it took to get pregnant it just wasn't part of my perfect life at that moment.  God had other plans and six not nine months later Parker Kennedy Freels decided ready or not it was time to make an entrance into this crazy chaotic world.

I wish I could say all things fell into place but that would be a far stretch from the truth.  To be honest, his dad and I were a trainwreck.  We were immature, wild, and selfish.  We were clueless about what it was going to take to raise a baby especially one that was born 12 weeks early.

From his very first breath, Parker was a fighter and determined to thrive.  Weighing three pounds and 14 ounces and 14 inches long with a head full of fuzzy brown hair and the most gorgeous deep blue eyes you had ever seen.  He began teaching me about who I wanted to be even at such an early age.

While most mothers on the maternity floor were holding their precious babies and enjoying time with families my life was being ripped apart as the nurses rushed my baby out the door and off to St. Mary's in Evansville not knowing if he would even live.  I lay my first night as a mother in a lonely hospital room alone praying my baby would make it.  It would be three weeks before I would even get to hold my boy in my arms.

Three months later and many ups and downs, we walked out of the NICU at St. Mary's with our boy and life began.  My momma always told me he'll grow up fast cherish every single moment.  I never knew how right she would be.

Fast forward 17 years through a near-drowning, the death of a sister, aunt, grandmother, grandfather, and parents divorcing, and this child is the most resilient and amazing kid you will ever meet.

Parker and I battle one another.  We always have.  Like oil and water, gasoline and a match that best describes us.  However, when it comes down to it I am the one he calls for most things he needs in life.  And I have learned for us it is what works it is how we mesh together.

Six months ago Parker and I decided it was in the best interest of everyone that he move in with his dad.  It tore my heart into pieces.  A part of me died that day.  Then I learned a new normal.  Hard but true I didn't have to have control over everything and we grew together.  I found out just because he didn't live with me didn't mean I couldn't love him as I always had he just wouldn't be under my roof.

Growing pains have been a major part of our relationship more so than with any of my other kiddos.  Maybe because he is more like his dad and I focused on that instead of truly how God made him.  He is kindhearted, determined, strong-willed, and an outstanding young man.

Parker has taught me more about myself over the years than I planned for him too.  He brings out my demons some days.  The ones I hide from the real world.  Maybe because I have always wanted that white picket fence life with the perfect children and as the years have passed I watched it slowly fade into the rearview mirror and accepted what was coming at me in the windshield.

Today I am grateful for mistakes, chaos, imperfections, hard lessons, and every single tear cried.  It has brought us to the present time of understanding, laughter, love, respect, and the crazy whirlwind we call life.

Everything leading up to this moment has made me appreciate my son all the more.  When he surprises me at work, he sends an early morning text to say "Have a great day mom, I love you", calls to talk about choices he has to make and asks my opinion.  I literally place those in my life savings account and cherish each one.

I look back 17 years ago and think about the young lost girl who brought a poor innocent baby boy into this world.  We showed life who we were didn't we Parker?

I have said it before and I will say it again "Being a parent to teens is not for the faint of heart"  it takes faith, grit, a whole lot of tears, and PRAYERS.  Without God, I would have long given up on being a mother.  Yet, here I am smiling, enjoying being in the middle of the mess, and dancing through the mistakes.

I pray any parent reading this realize you will make it through.  It is tough.  It's alright to cry, scream, throw things, and act like a fool from time to time.  This too shall pass.

Until then hit your knees and give it all over to the only one who can truly handle all our messes.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY PARKER KENNEDY FREELS, YOU WILL ALWAYS BE MY FIRST LOVE.

Thank you for letting me share my life with you all~

Mustard Seed Photography
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