This is my view of Sierra's room when she's away. I keep the door open and walk past it several times a day always to be reminded of what's missing. When she's home she keeps the door shut (mostly to hide her messy room) but when she's at school, I keep it open waiting for her return. Today is her 21st birthday. While it is a major milestone in someone's life, it's not necessarily the birthday that you look forward to spending with your parents. I didn't get to see her today and that seems very strange. She stayed in Chico to celebrate with her friends. We'll postpone our festivities until the coming weekend. Instead I thought a lot about 1989. Sierra is the age I was when I delivered her and our lives couldn't be more different. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change a thing about my life, but I've always hoped for an easier road for my children and so far, so good. I married at 19 and had my first baby at 21. While it worked well for us, it's not the easiest way to start a family. It is so much wiser to finish your education and to be a bit older and more mature before marrying and becoming a parent. Sierra is almost finished with her third year of college and is on track to graduate (with her first degree) next spring. She has really set herself up for success. One of my favorite quotes is, "Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid" and Sierra has been anything but stupid.
No one has directly changed my life as much as Sierra. Becoming a parent was a transformative experience for me and it defines who I am. My whole life changed in an instant and all for the better. Every thing, every one, every moment was preparation for that event. While I consider my marriage my most significant relationship, being a parent is my most important responsibility. I know that God will never give us more burden than we can bear. He knows I can't handle much, so he's given me tremendous children to raise who have always been more blessing than burden.