One of Seth's requirements for his Senior Exit Project is to make a Senior Memory Book from the time he was born to his senior year. It comprises of 15 chapters with about 3 pictures per chapter. I can't wait to read what he wrote. One of the chapter section requires a letter from a parent. This is my letter:
April 23, 2014
Dear Seth McNeil Powell-
In order for me to write this letter, I would need to start at the very beginning. Once upon a time I was a newlywed bride in June 1995. And Dad wanted to start a family, and I didn’t. I wanted to experience being free for awhile, having just moved out of my parents house. I wanted to travel and experience new things. I wanted some couple time with my brand new husband, which was hard because he was working 12 to 16 hour days. I wanted to go to college for awhile longer and get my BA degree first. There were so many things that I wanted. But when you get married to someone you love, someone that you committed your entire life and eternity to, you learn to make compromises. You learn that marriage is not for you, its for your spouse. And vice versus. Starting a family requires being unselfish and loving others unconditionally. It requires sacrifice, and yes it was a huge sacrifice to give up many of my dreams.
So after one month of being the new bride, I made the decision to go ahead and start a family with your Dad. Three months later I was finally pregnant. I could scarcely believe it! What the heck was I thinking??! We had exactly 72 dollars in the bank and no savings. We had a jittery old 1986 on its last wheels Suburu. I had no college degree and no job. I felt like I had absolutely nothing at all. Nothing at all except for my hard working husband. He asked me to be patient, and he promised me that he will work really hard to get us into our first real home. And I held him to those promises with constant reminders.
Now begins my pregnancy. It was really hard. I was still a college student, a waddling fat penguin in a sea of beautiful thin college people at Utah Valley State College. I was determined to at least get my AS degree. I waddled around everywhere, with whispers behind my back, those ignorant people thinking I got myself knocked up. I was barely 20 years old. I tripped once while moving to our 2nd apt when I was 6 months pregnant, and had constant sharp lower back pain for 18 months. I got kidney stones and was passed out on narcotics for pain for a week, and the doctor threatened to put me in the hospital if I didn't rest. But like I said, I was determined to try to get my AS degree, and I was working too.
Finally by May 1996 I was completely and utterly exhausted. I couldn’t sleep. I was in pain all the time. I was stressed on my math finals (which I passed and got an A) And by May 15th the semester was over and I dragged myself home in tears of frustration, anxiety, and exhaustion. Your Dad was worried about me. He called our home teachers on May 18th, and they came over to help Dad give me a blessing. You were not due until May 27th. A couple hours later I decided to soak in the bathtub because my back was hurting so much worse. After a half hour, your Dad and I finally realized that I was in labor!
Fast forward 10 hours later (stuff you don’t want to hear about right now) you were placed into my arms. I cried tears of joy. I wriggled your toes and saw that you had twin toes just like me. I was instantly and completely in love with you. You were mine. I worked my butt off to earn the right to be your mommy. And you were completely relaxed and aware of your surroundings. I asked to have you by my side as often as possible. The nurses were amazed on how easygoing you were even as a brand new infant. Dad and I brought you home, and I made the decision to stay home and raise you myself. Yes it required being broke and poor for years, and even more so when Dad and I had three more children. But it was worth it.
We were two peas in a pod when it was just the two of us. We did everything together. You went to every errand with me, and I don’t remember a single tantrum, a single diaper blowout, or any of the icky baby days when I took you out in public. Everyone adored you. You were such a good easygoing baby. You were extremely observant and alert. You were super smart. You even figured out how to get mommy’s attention when you were in the crib by rocking and banging the crib against the wall to create vibrations I could feel. You learned by five months old that screaming and crying does not help to get your deaf mom’s attention.
Then one day you were two years old and very bright. We went to the library every week and checked out at least 20 books, and we read them all. I enrolled you in preschool when you were three, and after two months I pulled you out because you were not getting what you needed out out school except to play with a certain blue Power Ranger every single time. Im not paying 80 dollars a month just for you to play with a blue Power Ranger when you had tons more at home.
So I started home pre schooling you and I realized you like the challenges I put in front of you. You loved your workbooks. Soon I was getting the 4-5 years of age workbooks when you were three years old. You tinkered with things and brought home about 20 rocks a day and marveled over the details of them, and studied your rocks everyday. You would watch Blues Clues and would “figure out Blue’s Clues” long before Steve did. Suddenly you were 5 years old and went to school just a short month later. Every paper you brought home was an A. You asked for extra credit. Then you were getting in trouble for talking in class, and we figured out that you were bored at school. Dad and I had to ask the teachers to give you assignments that were a grade level up. I refused to have you skip grades at school because you were still physically and emotionally the same as your peers, and I felt it was proper to keep you there with your peers. But academically Dad and I had to push you and challenge you. We always told you not to go for the easy A (90 percent) but to go for the 110 percent every time. In which you did. Then you were in the 7th grade learning to make powerpoint presentations on your own, and use photoshop at home to enhance the digital media of your homework and presentations. Just when I thought you got yourself settled in school, you would surprise me with how much more you could learn and understand the world around you, and learn to apply it.
Then one day high school started, and we hit a glitch for awhile with you. It wasn’t academics, but more of the emotional and mental well being of learning to be a teenager, learning to continue to be respectful to your parents, and learning to understand that you were not yet an adult, even though you were brighter and smarter than the adults. It was a hard pill for you to swallow. There was no need to grow up so fast, but yet that is what exactly what you were trying to do. After a few months you found your footing at Empire and thrived, and surrounded yourself with a community of wonderful friends. You got involved. Your shy wallflower high school mom back in the day was surprised to see you join the Link Crew, become homecoming Prince, and the following year a King, get into NHS, become a big supporter of events and games, and all sorts of things. You were living the dream I always wish I had back in the day. So I started to live your high school days through you. I took a million pictures, made scrapbooks, Facebooked, blogged, and bragged about my son.
And now I realize that giving up my dreams was worth it. It was worth everything so I could give it all to my son and my other children. This is one of the things of learning to become more like our Savior. This is one of the things that help me understand more about our Father in Heaven. Our Father gave everything he had: his only begotten Son to the entire world. He made a huge sacrifice. Jesus himself made a huge sacrifice for us and gave us the atonement. He gave us the way to find joy, peace, and happiness. And I learned more about our Savior and Heavenly Father by learning how to give up my dreams so you could achieve yours. And I don’t regret it at all. I will someday as I get older and in the next life get my chance to achieve my dreams.
I realize that I am not perfect. I was not always a wonderful mother. I screamed too much (which I learned to control) spanked you too much when you were little, and got on to you too much. While you were on your way to being a superstar in academics at school, I was learning to be a better mother and person, and you being the firstborn, were my guinea pig. And only because you could handle it. I know its not easy for you to be a CODA. The only thing I can tell you is that the experience is only going to make you stronger, more understanding, and more compassionate, so you can get out and handle the real world full of imperfect people learning to become better and kinder.
Dad has always told you: “everything you touch turns to gold.” And when you apply yourself and stop procrastinating, you achieve many wonderful things. And there is so so much more you can do to learn and grow. You might think you are at the end of a bright high school life your senior year. But your life is only just beginning. You are going to learn soon on what it means to sacrifice and work really hard to get the life you want. You might be asked or be obligated to give up some of your dreams for a while to help another person get a future too. When life gets too hard, and you like your mom back when she was pregnant with you, get utterly exhausted, frustrated and at the end of your rope..just simply talk to your Father in Heaven and to follow the teachings of Jesus. Remember your family and all we have done for you. Remember that we, your family and your Savior, are your best friends forever while the ones you have now eventually become strangers on Facebook.
You have come so very far in your life. Yet if you would to look at your life right now like a 12 inch ruler, you have only moved ahead one line over to the right. You have so much more potential and learning head of you. And when you get to the end of that ruler, you will find that you are only just handed a yardstick. After that its a measuring tape. And after that, well, life cannot really be measured because there is no end to life, learning, joy, peace, and love.
I love you so much, and I am so very proud of all the wonderful things you have done in your life. Continue to be that little boy I raised, full of wonder and stars in his eyes when he was three, and keep that feeling in your heart, and I promise you, one day when you look around your world with the stars in your eyes, you will look up and see the stars in the heaven, with no end or limit. And that is the kind of future you can set for yourself.
Love always and forever,