02 03 The Rhineheart Roost: The 18th year.... 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

The 18th year....

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Wow.
It's crazy to think that legally, I'm now considered an adult. Do I feel like one? Heck to the no! But apparently I am one now.... Freaky, isn't it? One day you're an innocent teenager, minding your teenager-y business, and the next... BOOM. Adult. I mean, obviously I haven't physically changed or anything. I haven't been given a Badge of Official Adulthood or anything, and to be honest, I don't feel "older". But I do feel different. This year, things are changing. So many things, and I don't know if I'm excited or scared.

First off, this is my last birthday at home. Next year, I will be a poor college student and I'll probably be able to scrape enough money together to buy myself a bran muffin to commemorate the occasion, but I don't foresee much of a celebration happening. Which is kind of a bummer, but then again, life goes on and birthdays aren't a humongous deal after all.

Secondly, I'm old enough to do so many things now! Skydive, hold puppies at the mall, buy dry ice and spray paint, cigarettes (not that THAT will EVER happen), I can work in some clothing stores that I was previously too young for, I can register to vote, I can go to Relief Society, I can GET MARRIED LEGALLY WITHOUT MY PARENT'S CONSENT, (let's pause for a moment and reflect. As of right now, I can get. Hitched. Is anybody else feeling slightly weird about that declaration? I mean, I'm not running off and eloping anytime soon, but that is seriously bizarre.) and I can be punished for crimes as an adult. Yay, me! :P

Another neat thing I'm old enough to do now is become a doula! A doula is a person (usually a woman) who assists women during labor and childbirth. I've always been fascinated by the miracle of birth, and have considered becoming a doula for a long time now. Since finding out that I am old enough to do so, I have decided to begin taking steps to become qualified. Knowing that someday I can help other women bring little children into the world is amazing, and I can't wait!

I'm switching gears now to tell you about my day. Savvy?

Originally, I was mildly irritated by the thought of turning 18 on Sunday. Hello? I'm an adult now! Where's the fun and celebratory purchasing I get to participate in? Why do I have to wake up early to go to church on my birthday?! Ughhhh....

Turns out, it wasn't half bad.

I woke up early to a few sweet messages from my friends, and showered off to begin getting ready. My family came to my door to sing happy birthday to me, and in honor of how I emerged into this world, I greeted them in my birthday suit. Okay, not really. I had a blanket on, and I had just gotten out of the shower, so I had an excuse to be in the nude. Even so, I thought it was really funny that I was basically in the same boat as I was 18 years ago. Naked, and slightly confused as a whole bunch of people smiled and stared at me. I finished getting ready, and off we went to church!

It was ward conference, and we had several different stake officers speak to us during church. It was a really, really good meeting, and I can't think of a better way to celebrate my birthday than by drawing closer to the very Being who created me. It was a neat perspective on today. Birthdays are traditionally focused on the person in question, and I liked how instead of the focus being on little, insignificant me, we all focused on our Heavenly Father, the one who gave us life.

Sometimes I think that my birthdays should instead be a celebration for my parents and my heavenly parents, because I did nothing but pop out of my mother. My mom was the one who grew me, spent time in the hospital for months trying to keep me in to continue developing, and she's the one who went through the pain of getting me here. My dad stood by her side through it all, never questioning whether it was worth it or not, and the two of them have brought me up these past 18 years. They have struggled with me, prayed for me, and worried over me countless times, and they will do that the rest of their lives. I honestly do not understand why they keep it up, but I am grateful every day for their unconditional love and sacrifice for me. Mom, Dad, I don't think there is any way to ever come close to expressing my sheer gratitude to the two of you for raising me and being so patient through the ups and downs, but I want you to know how much I love you. You two are truly an inspiration, and I can only hope I can be half the parent you guys are. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

To my siblings and friends, I love you all so much as well. You've stuck with me for years, and I am so grateful for that. Seeing the little Facebook messages pop up today has brought a smile to my face every time. I don't deserve the love you have shown, but I'm so grateful you thought of me. Thank you so much! You have no idea how much it means to me. I hope you can feel my love.

It's definitely been a good 18 years. I'm looking forward to what happens next!

~Haeley

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