Two Novembers ago, tb-two* told the story of Miranda Lovern, a Dixie Hollins High sophomore who was about to give birth.
Now Lovern is 18, the mother of 2 1/2-year-old Tyler, a healthy boy with soft brown hair and big dark eyes who loves toy trucks and toaster strudel. She is also a high school senior who is about to graduate with the rest of her Dixie Hollins class in June.
"The hardest part about being a teen mother is the lack of freedom," Lovern says. "I'm 18, I'm supposed to be selfish, I'm supposed to be living for myself and doing what I want, when I want, but instead I have to meet the every endless need of a small child," she said this week.
Though she is no longer in a relationship with the baby's father, she makes sure Tyler gets to spend time with his dad, Ryan Gillick. The two spend Mondays and Thursdays together, giving Lovern extra time to focus on class work, her job at KFC and other responsibilities.
Lovern plans to attend St. Petersburg College in the fall and to continue working. Someday, she says, she might be a veterinarian, or own a music school. She enjoys singing and posts videos of her song covers on Facebook.
She and Tyler live with her mother. Going to school full time and working are duties enough for most high school students, who don't have a small child to care for.
"The best part, though," Lovern says of being Tyler's mother, "is having someone always there for you to hold at night when you're lonely, and to just blow you away with every new sentence he says. He learns so much, so fast and he is just amazing.
"It's nice to have someone to live for," she says. "A purpose."