I can’t lie, this has been one of the harder posts for me to write. 18 years. It went by way too fast. Wasn’t I just watching Barney more times than I can count? Weren’t we just rushing out the door because “Clifford The Big Red Dog” was on TV meaning we were late to the sitters because mom left me in charge of getting you ready? I swear we just moved you from the crib to the car bed that seemed way too big at the time. Yet here we are. 18 years. Gone in a blink.

The first born son. The carrier of my middle name. In so many ways, we’ve grown up together you and I. I’ve learned to be a dad and more than once had to ask your forgiveness because I’m new at this parenting thing too. From the car seat to the booster, back seat to the front seat, the conversations we’ve had and the places we’ve gone. So many memories. So many miles.

I’ve often heard it said that you’re supposed to be a parent to your child and not their best friend. I would argue that maybe, just maybe, you can be both. While you’ve always respected the authority, I have cherished our relationship. Sports, texts, decisions big and small. I’m so thankful I was given this opportunity.

I told you last year that you would love seventeen. By all accounts you have. Just one week ago, you announced the first of so many adult decisions you will make now. I hope all of the times you stood by my side you caught more than I taught. I hope all of the twists and turns, lessons and moments have created a foundation and place to launch from. As is always the case, I give your mom 99.9% of the credit for who you are, whose you are and what you’ve become.

Today marks a major milestone. You’re ready to leave your mark, cast your shadow and be your own person. Eighteen years of being ours has prepared you to be what you will be from this time forward. This world, no matter how crazy it can be, is full of opportunities.

Our job was to raise you. We are here to give you all of the tools, wisdom and instruction for adulthood. I think this post was hard to write because I’d like more time. It went too fast. Feelings and emotions aside, this much is clear….

You’re ready.

I’m not.

Happy 18th Birthday Austin.

Love, Dad.