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mandy friend

oh Karen, you made me tear up. If my boys turn out as respectful and as sweet as Ross I will be so proud. You've done amazing, there's a great spirit inside that boy:)!

Alisa Logue

Oh, I got teary! You're a good mom! It flies by way too fast doesn't it!


Karen, congrats on one of the best posts you've ever written.
Your love for your family is obvious any time you talk about them, but a post like this one is a gift to your son that he will treasure forever.
And it's a gift that keeps on givin'!


Beautiful. I have tears in my eyes!

Jennifer L

Karen, I'm sitting here bawling as I read your post. It's beautifully written. You are such a good mom. I wish you were my friend. I could really use a good one right now. Your family is lucky to have you. You are blessed.

Andrea Elizabeth

Karen, you are the best mom ever. I am in awe of you each and everyday...... happy 18th birthday Ross.... I am 25 today! 4-12 is the BEST.


That was just beautiful Karen! You have done an amazing job as a parent and should be very proud of yourself.


What an absolutely beautiful post. Happy 18th Birthday to your Ross - it is apparent that he is a wonderful young man and that he has you to thank for that. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

I appreciate it very much.


Stephanie @ La Dolce Vita

A beautiful post and a beautiful family. My family is asking me why I'm smiling and looking wobbly all at the same time ... Happy Birthday to Ross. You did a great job with that kid!


I was 17 when I had my boys. (twins) They just turned 20. I feel bad, too, that I didn't do everything perfectly and that I didn't spend more time just being with them. I heard someone talking about what he thought heaven would be like. (not literally, just talking.) He said there would be a bunch of "screening" rooms and you could watch all of these great moments in history and witness first hand what happened. I hope God has a screening room for little moments in history, too, so he can show us how much good he was able to bring out of the mistakes we made. These kids would probably still be great people had we been perfect, but different, ya know? Congratulations on a job well done!


Karen, you obviously did a great job with Ross and I have no doubt you are a great Mom! As the Mother of an 18 yr old son myself (and a 20 yr old as well) who also hugs me in front of his friends I feel your frustrations and your joy! Congrats to both you and Ross for helping each other grow up!


Wow, great post! You are so blessed with an amazing family! Happy Birthday Ross!

Stephanie Vetne

This is one of the most beautiful posts I've ever read! What an amazing mom you are and what an amazing kid he is. I'm all teary-eyed and misty over this one.

teresa b

You did it again.. smiling thru the trears!! You are an amazing mom Karen.. Happy 18th birthday Ross.. Good job!!


That post was beautiful. I think it would make great text for an entire album. Just pictures of you and your boy and these heartfelt words.


Man, you almost had me in tears with this one! You had me wondering about where Ross was moving to with your last post(as if I actually knew him, ha!) Loved the bag of Top Ramen(still love that stuff!)

Heather Freeman

I am teared up as well. That was a truly beautiful entry. I am raising 3 boys, 8, 7, and 2, and hope that I can maintain special relationships with each one of them as you have with Ross. You have done an amazing job, and it shows. He loves you so openly.....and that isnt something that comes is something that is shared and shown. Kudos to you, Karen. I hope you have an amazing night with Ross as he celebrates his 18th birthday.


Oh my Karen, that was so sweet and heartfelt! You certainly raised a good boy :)


Well said! You did a great job! Off to wipe my tears! Happy Birthday Ross!


That was a beautiful story, made me tear up.


karen, you did it! you raised one heck of an awesome kid there and i'm so glad you share your stories here with us. i've said it before, but i'm gonna go ahead and say it again-- ross ROCKS! and so do you!!


I got tears in my eyes just reading your words Karen! While I'm sure you've made your share of mistakes (what mom hasn't) it's obvious you've done such an amazing job with your son! My son is 14 now & every time I read your posts about Ross I hope and pray that I will have that same kind of relationship with him that you have with your son! You are so very lucky to have him!! And he's incredibly lucky to have you, too. I hope he has a happy birthday. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with all of us out here!

val koop

Bravo Mama. Bravo.

jennifer Compton

You rock.

Valerie + Madigan

Best post to date...
You're lucky to have each other!!


I was just sitting here wishing my son could stay 8 for a while I am really wishing. It is so true, we hurry through the childhood and then wonder what happened. I so enjoy watching your "happy ever after" Karen!


Best post ever. Made me cry. This hit close to home because I'm a college student and I have a baby. Even though I'm not single, I totally understand the incentive plan and I totally understand not feeling like a normal college kid. I hope that one day Ev and I will have the same kind of relationship because when you say that he calls you beautiful, I just die inside hoping he will do the same for me someday.

jessica jo

what an inspiring post. your guys are lucky to have each other. at some points in your story i thought you were telling MY story.


Beautifully written. Happy birthday Ross!

Jenny Alfonso

Wow. What a powerful blog post. I think I'm going to reread this one every single time I need a pick me up. You are the best mom ever. It's so encouraging to read your thoughts on raising Ross. You are such an inspiration. How very lucky all our kids are to have you as their mom. I can't stop crying over your blog post. Thanks so much Karen for sharing such details about your life with us. Thanks for making my day.

ps - Annie looks EXACTLY like you in that young picture of you!


This was so beautiful. You should be so proud that you were able to go to college and raise such a wonderful son. Being a Single Mom so hard. Quite the accomplishment! Be proud. Thanks for sharing your life with all of us. Lori


Lovely story! You're so blessed! :)
Happy Birthday to your son!!!


I love this story. So sentimental and so true. As a new mother to an 8-month old, I can take this story from you as not "wish my baby's life away." Thanks for such a sweet story.

Catherine Reum

I NEVER comment on blogs, a silent observer, make that fan, I am. However, that was hands down the best blog post I have read in a long time, if not ever. I am not a mother, but found myself releasing a tear (or three, who's counting) due to the shear honesty and openness of your words. The best part is, it sounds like you have raised an incredible human being, and that along with love, will never change. Congratulations- to both of you.

Kim Hastie

oh how i wish i was doing as good of a job as you are... your kids seem so happy and balanced...finding balance is something I struggle with every day.

I know what you mean about wishing their childhood away. I am struggling with that right now.(and wish that I could stop it). I keep thinking that if I can just get through this current phase, things will get easier. For example, if I can just make it through May, I will be done with preschool forever and I will have more than a 2 hour gap in my day when I can get something accomplished:( and so on and so far...

thank you so much for your post today. It helps me to know that I am not the only one who has ever felt this way. Your post today will make me a better mom tomorrow:)

thanks so much!


i'm in tears.

this is beautiful.

you are a good mom. an intentional mom.

i hope my son (children) delight in me when they are 18, just at yours delights in you.

Rebecca Brigham

What lovely sentiments!


I'm LOVING every single word in this post. So very well written and I have tears in my eyes.

You are a wonderful mom and it shows through your child (their pictures) and the wonderful posts that you share with us. You're family is amazing and super special.

I'm a single mom and this post has by far made me feel like everything that I do (as tough as it is) is worth it. My son is 6 and I pray everyday that I'm doing things right. It's a struggle in deed but after reading this post I know, that I'm doing thing just right.

Thank you precious for your words of wisdom that you share. It truly impacts so many of us.

Happy Birthday Ross. You're mom is so lucky to have you and vice versa!


Oh my, I love all your posts but this one hit me right in the stomach. You brought tears of pride and joy and triumph to my eyes. At 27, I found myself a divorced single woman with a three-year-old daughter. I know what you're talking about when you mention "social-stigma." I too worked hard to fight off poor self-esteem and more than a little shame as I worked a full-time job, went to night school, and raised my beautiful, successful, amazingly wise and wonderful daughter, who now is 29 and still my best friend. I remember her chubby little hand patting me on the back and her little voice telling me, "It's ok, Mom, we're fine," as I tried to hide my worry and tears from her when we had "more month than money." THANK YOU for sharing these poignant and personal thoughts. I have no doubt they will be read by someone who needs to hear that it's possible to make this challenging but rewarding journey and come out stronger on the other side. And I thank you for the kind and lyrical reminder of all I have achieved and why that is so much more important than the more trivial troubles I face today. You are an inspiration, Karen. Warmest, Janie

Bev F

Happy Birthday Ross and please pass me a tissue.


Congratulations on making it through. It seems like you did an awesome job and have a pretty great son on your side ... and thanks to you, he'll know what the truly important stuff is once he starts out on his own.


oh my goodness, Karen! I haven't checked in on your blog in awhile due to computer issues. lol I thought I'd catch up, an hour later...I'm still reading your poosts. I've cried 3 times! My heart is all warm and fuzzy and achy. You are such an inspiration to all moms. I wish we lived closer, so we could hang out. I just adore you. xoxo


Wow, you should be very proud of yourself and Ross. What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing.


Lovely post Karen. Happy Birthday Ross!!


amazing post! Brought tears to my eyes because like you, when I was 19 years old I was also a single mom of a beautiful little girl. I couldn't have raised her without the help of family. My daughter is now 14 and I hope when she is 18 that we have that special bond that you and Ross have. Thank you for this post!!

Alis in Wnderlnd

I'm in tears.

allison Gottlieb

sob. amazing post.

Cara in NJ

love your honesty! Many tears were shed. God Bless you and your family Karen!


You're right that your not done parenting- there is still much to teach. I know because we continue to train our almost 22 yr old daughter. She still lives here too- she has a curfew and she's still on the dish rotation, some people think that is weird, her beau doesn't though. I'm guessing that she'll be engaged sometime this year. I started out as a single mom too, in my mid 20's with overly involved parents (the kind with the net before you fall),I lacked confidence, I hoped she'd get through certain stages quickly also, and that I regret too. She's spent one summer in another state, working at a Bible camp, she just spent a week in Mex on a missions trip- She's a beautiful young woman and my best friend. She knows me better than anyone else, even my Hubby. I'm right there with you Karen, I'll be praying for you as Ross graduates and moves into his adult life.

Cindy Welch

Wow, this pic sure looks like annie. The best blog post you have had in a while. You can feel the love!!

tara pollard pakosta

Happy Birthday to your beautiful soN!
he's a perfect gem, that one. and you certainly
have a hand in that, how awesome!

Denise L

You rock Karen!! (said with a rather large lump in my throat). ;-)


Could you please add a kleenex warning on posts like this?!!! I so admire your relationship with your son!


that was so beautiful and sweet that it brought tears to my eyes. ross is just as lucky to have you, as you are to have him.

Jen I.

If my girls (1 and 3) grow up to be like Ross - or treat me how Ross treats you - or says the kind, sweet things Ross says to you - I will know I've succeeded as a mother. You sound like a fantastic mother and bravo to you for the road you've traveled and making it to this point. You are an inspiration.

Jenny Schimak

A beautiful post.

Patty Hetrick

okay, that deserved a Kleenex! If you have a good relationship with your kid and he feels like he's ready to give it a go on his own, then you have to think you've done a lot right!!


what a beautiful + inspiring post karen! it made me cry.


I am 8 weeks away from graduating from University with a 3 year degree, I have done it as a 40 year old single mum and my amazing Grace (daughter) was definitely my incentive! I love this post as it makes me think of all that I have got through! Well done to both you and Ross for being there for each other!

Michelle A

That was simply an amazing and moving post! Thank you for sharing so freely of yourself.

Jen Spain

I know a lot of people have already said this, but this is beautiful. I love your honesty, Karen, and the touching way you tell your stories. I know exactly what it means to have an incentive plan to do this parenting thing right -- my two boys are now 10 and 5, and they have been my incentive plan since the moment I first felt them move. I hope Ross has a birthday to remember!

Danielle Roe

You made me tear up Karen! Happy birthday Ross. :)

Shauna Thompson

That made me cry. I don't want my kids to get bigger, but I know they are. You are an awesome mom! I hope that I have a strong relationship with each of my kids as they start leaving.

Also, the expression on your face in that picture reminds me of your youngest little girl's expressions.


This absolutely encourages and tugs at my heart all at the same time. So glad you had such a support team so things could turn out so well for the both of you :)


Wow. Beautiful post.


Awwww - you're such a good mama. I sent my baby to college this year. And even though he's 1/2 hour away....I missed him so much for the first 5 months, I ached. I loved those days when he was my "little buddy". But that's what life is all about. You did a good job and set a good foundation for him. He'll do you proud :)

debbi g.



Wow! My daughter just turned 21 on Saturday, I have had some of the same feelings about wishing times away. I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes. Great post!!

Michelle J

Beautifully written as always. I love your blog because you are so honest, and so open, and you have so much to teach. I've been feeling regrets too, as my girls gather birthdays. Thank you for sharing your beautiful life. Happy Birthday Ross - you have one incredible Mom.


Thanks for making us all cry!! Snothead :P


i just cried! it feels like we lived the same life! I had my son when i was 19!! and he's now 16. .. i've already been told, "when he turns 18, buy him a new set of luggage!!" .. i personally like the grill idea. ;)

gina harpur

Wow, very touching! You both are very lucky for making it thru with such a great relationship. Ross is a good role model for his siblings too.
I can totally relate to the wishing away the childhood part. We are just so darn tired & busy during that part of their/our lives. I remember wanting to sit in my closet just to have a few minutes by myself. Now I sooo miss having those little kid times but guess that is this what grandkids are for.


Wow....I'm not even a mother...but this was tugging at my heartstrings. So sweet. You're both very lucky people.


Karen, thank you so much for sharing this with us!


Ross and I share a birthday....he's a bit younger than me (like 19 years)!

Your writing on him brought tears to my eyes! How lucky you boyh have been to have each other.


I just love reading your blog. Thanks for sharing! Happy birthday to your "incentive plan"!

Mary Ann

Well done Karen, well done.


Wow. This resonates with me so much. I was 18 when I had my son (he's almost 5 now and it went by SO fast.. I'm too young to have a 5 year old!) and I hope once he gets to be that age, that he's a great young man .. like Ross. You two are so lucky. But then again, maybe you're terrific at everything and this was just meant to be :0)


1) I love your shorts
2) you look SO MUCH like Annie in that photo
3) you can still impart life lessons even if Ross is not living at home, trust me
4) you're an amazing mom and an amazing person
5) Happy Birthday Ross



You have done an outstanding job raising your son! You should be so so proud of yourself. You are both so lucky to have each other. I hope my children will one day respect me just as much. Good job, Karen!

Donna W

Wow that was amazing! I have always admired you for your scrapbooking stuff - I have loved the papers and albums and other stuff you've designed. But I think the reason I love your blog is for your perspective on life, raising children and the importance of family. I love the way you write. I think Ross was lucky to have you too! And I hope he reads your post today.

Helen Walsh

Karen, beautiful words that made me cry. I hope I can have a relationship like that with my children, i'm due to have my first baby any day now.
Thanks for your honesty! Oh, and Annie looks so much like you in this picture!


Awesome post!

I just have to say that that is such an Annie face you're pulling!!!


This is my favorite post. I just love everything about it!

Kimberly Minyard

karen - that was an amazing post. It touched my heart. you made it and ross will make it and you two will still have each other as incentive plans.


I sit here crying (happy crying) because this is just so beautiful and powerful and wonderful! Congratulations!! You accomplished the hardest task in this lifetime: raising a smart, responsible, caring son that is going to go out into this world and contribute. You are an AWESOME Mom - your kids are lucky to have you (and we can tell you feel the same about them)!!

Aimee Westcott

Secret: I may have just cried reading that. And my nickname is "stone cold" given to me by my husband because I don't cry... sheesh.

Cate O'Malley

Oh man, that made me tear up. I'm 20 years older than you were then, but a single mom now of two, a seven year old son and a two year old daughter. And I totally feel a lot of the same things you wrote about here. Trying to weave our way through this differently challenging path, hoping I don't screw it up for them, knowing that it will all be ok in the end. Kudos on doing such an awesome job!


Loved this post! Thanks for reminding me to slow down with my little ones. I too have a tendency to "wish this stage away" at times! I sounds like you have raised an amazing man!


Oh my gosh...that brought tears to my eyes! So beautifully written.

tess s.

it's too early for crying. what a beautiful relationship the 2 of you have. amazing.


I don't think I've ever commented, but I've loved every post. You really are amazing!

Jennifer M.

You and Ross are extremely lucky to have each other. What a great post.


Great post! He's a lucky guy to have a great mom like you!


This post had me smiling while tearing up!!! Great Job Mom!!! Happy Birthday Ross!!


This is an incredible post. Brought tears to my eyes. Cheers!


(I am crying at my desk in my office... so not cool.)

I hope I can be 1/10 the mom you've been to Ross to my two little boys.


wow, wow, wow! thank you for sharing

Shannon Laux

This is a beautiful post. You write beautifully. Congrats to you for doing such an amazing job with him. You should be proud of yourself. I know you are crazy proud of Russ. Happy Birthday Russ!

K de ron

that was so touching and so real happy birthday Ross take care and go make your mama proud.

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