Look Who’s 17! Happy Birthday Will.

March 27 is a good, good day. It’s the day two of the most important men in my life celebrate life. My dad is 71 today and my oldest is 17. At 6 and 60 and 28 and 82 they share a reversed birthday. How fun is that? Seventeen years ago seems like such a short-long time ago. Does that even make sense?

It’s birthday letter today, so let’s get to it.


Dear Will,

Seventeen years ago I didn’t know the plans God had for me. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and now I know.

I didn’t know that you would be a textbook baby, leading me to believe that all babies were as perfect as you, because of course, you had perfect parents. But, life isn’t a textbook. There’s no check sheet for you to reference how your life will play out. The closer you march toward high school graduation, the greater my heart grows with gratitude to be your mom.

Years ago, when my mom told me I would someday understand her love for me, she was right. It’s just taken me years to see it. To feel it. No matter the choices you make – the good ones, the bad ones or the ones in between – the heart remains unchanged.

Seeing you really grow (and boy, do I mean grow – aren’t you like 6’2″ now?!) this year has been hard and humbling. As much as my heart wants to hold on to the little boy who used to snuggle up on the couch with me, eating a Hershey bar and watching HGTV, I’m relishing in the young man who wants to go play basketball with his friends and catch dinner at Chick-Fil-A. Without me. It’s the way life should be. You should be testing out your flight wings, sometimes returning home to get some pointers on flying high. Mostly, though, you’re learning to fly on your own.

And that was my prayer 17 years ago. That you would become who God created you to be, with Dad and I cheering you on.

The counselor emailed this week, reminding us that senior schedules needed to be submitted. And, instead of crying (which completely surprised me), I smiled. Because this is a good, good season. Yes, you still drive me bananas with your teenage logic. I mean, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere. But I love having a house filled with a teenager and his friends.

Every night, Dad and I sit on the couch after getting everyone in bed. Shortly after, you appear at the balcony, with your cell phone in hand, to relay the latest sports news and, if we’re lucky, school and personal news. It’s my favorite part of the day.

I’ve seen a beautiful brotherhood emerge between you and John Paul this year. I hope you can see how much he respects and admires you. How honorable it is to be the sibling who is emulated. I just hope they don’t emulate your ability to clean the kitchen because you and I have completely different definitions of “clean.”

This year also meant a big leap in independence. You’re a legal driver now. Yikes. It’s 99.6% awesome to have another driver in the house. That .04% is my worry meter. I don’t think it will ever disappear. Also, thanks for reminding me how many times I commit rolling stops. I appreciate that.

Disciplining you isn’t as easy as it used to be. For one, I have to stand on the stairs or make you sit down, because yelling at someone taller than you doesn’t work. We both just end up laughing.

This letter would be incomplete if we didn’t talk about the awesomeness of your hair. You’re still the resident JFK around here. Dad still says one of your inches is your hair. HA!

Even if you got the procrastinator gene from your Dad (Lord, help me), you work incredibly hard. Almost always at the last minute. We joke that you must be on your permanent ninth life. Watching you find your place at school, in 4-H and at church is fascinating to watch. I see so much of your dad in you.

And, in an effort to not embarrass you further (don’t worry, I won’t talk about the state of your room), know this: your dad and I love watching you grow into a man with morals, values, common sense, integrity, faith and humor. Wherever you land after high school, they will have gained a large piece of my heart. I’m just grateful I get to keep you one more year.



And, if you’ve forgotten how much you’re loved, here’s sappy letters from 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 1110, 9, 8 and 7 because the rest were pre-blogging days!


  1. Amy Whitaker on March 27, 2018 at 7:16 am

    Happiest of birthdays! 17- I remember being that age, full of confidence but at the same time, some trepidation at leaving home soon. I hope he has a blessed year ahead!

  2. Gina on March 27, 2018 at 8:41 am

    Happy 17th Birthday, Will! You are so lucky to have two GREAT parents! Enjoy your special day! I’m thinking Iowa State University would be a GREAT college choice for you! 🙂

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