Wednesday, September 2, 2015

August 14, 2015: Life Sciences Convocation

It was pretty surreal being back on that BYU campus with my girl, now on the other end of things. As hard as it was to wrench her from the nest and send her up there, I was so grateful she was there, having the experiences she was, and getting the education that I'd dreamed for her. Granted, she did finish in only three years, but still, it felt like the time whizzed by and then she was graduating! When I dropped her off three years ago, I still had a year of nursing school left. In fact, I held her face in my hands, there in front of the Maeser building, and said goodbye to her before I had to rush home to make it in time for my psych clinical registration.

Now, here we are.

In those three years, a lot has happened, for both of us. We have grown closer and leaned on each other, despite the miles between us. Lyndsay and I spoke on the phone or texted almost every day. I talked her through a lot of test and project anxiety, and cheered on her every success. I heard about every class, every teacher, every roommate, every crush/date/boyfriend/break up, every failed blood donation attempt, every successful plasma donation, and all the frustrations and successes as she grew and thrived. She let me be part of her life and I was privileged to be her cheerleader and advisor, but most importantly, her mother. I still checked up that she was wearing a warm enough coat and boots, that she was wearing her retainer, and that she was eating well. I counseled her to pray, to make time for her scriptures, and to make new friends. I don't know that she really needed me, but I sure gained strength knowing she was up there. We had a routine that I called her on my way to work every night and we'd chat for that twenty minute drive. She'd text me now and then through my shift after a date, or after a test. I prayed with her and for her before finals and presentations.

Now, she is a college graduate. She is a scientist! My daughter! My sweet baby girl. We survived!

This was a big day for Lyndsay, and for all of us. Lyndsay was not only chosen as an honored student by the Biology department for Bioinformatics, but she was also asked to be the opening speaker at the convocation.

She was so nervous, and felt a little undeserving. She knew there were honored students with higher GPAs. She didn't know why she was chosen. I told her that she must have something to say that someone needed to hear, and I really believe that. She was supposed to write her speech and then turn it in a week before for approval. She was up late one night, thinking of what to say. She said she asked herself whom she wanted to reach, and the thought came to her that it was Dylan. With that in mind, she started to write and the words just kept coming. Late into the night she wrote and then, unexpectedly, she realized that she had her speech! She submitted it and it was returned with no revisions and glowing approval.

But she wouldn't share any of it with me. I knew she was nervous, but also so excited. I could tell she had a quiet spirit of confidence about her message. We had to get there early for mic measurements and photos, and I caught her going over her speech for a few minutes.

Then she and Dylan gave my poor dad some instruction on taking pictures with his flip phone. Bless his heart.

We got our seats nice and early! Up as close as we could be, and front and center.

She wore her power red lipstick.

And finally it was time!

Lyndsay sat up on the stand with the faculty and five other honored students. There she is on the front row, all the way on the right.

She was the opening speaker. Adam filmed her speech, but I just wanted to sit and listen, focus, take in the moment. I have to say it was the proudest five minutes of my life. She was so calm and confident. Her message of hope through the power of God to overcome the challenges that our genetic inheritance presents us with was so encouraging and filled with the Spirit. I sat in absolute awe of her. She sounded so grown up! Her mind and spirit have been developed. She is evolving into a great thinker. She has had some life experience that has deepened her soul.

There she is! On the big screens all over the Marriott Center!

It was so moving. And yes, Dylan said he had goosebumps. We all did. And tears. She nailed it.

Shortly afterwards, the graduates were called by name to receive their diplomas. Sitting there in that arena was very emotional for me. It was my dream to attend BYU so many years ago. I was accepted and received a scholarship and made the decision to withdraw my admission in order to get married to Lyndsay's dad. I have always felt a little pang of regret that I didn't wait a bit longer in life to get married, that I didn't pursue my education first. I think my life has been harder because of those choices. But though I am satisfied with my choices to be a mother, and that has always been my most important dream and calling, I heartily believe in the need and importance of women receiving advanced education, and I raised Lyndsay (and her brothers!) with that drilled into her. Mothers can be more effective, more satisfied, and contribute more effectively when they have developed their minds. I know Lyndsay's primary goal is to also be a mother and to devote most of her time to raising children as well, but like I always told her, motherhood can be a lot of lonely time spent doing thankless tasks--you might as well have intelligent things to think about! She'll be a more interesting mother because of her education.

Here are some pictures that we took afterwards. Enjoy!

Lyndsay with five of her six brothers.

The white sash Lyndsay wore is called a Stole of Gratitude. Each graduate is supposed to present it to the person who helped them on their path in significant ways. Lyndsay presented hers to me, which meant so much. I love this girl!

Well done, my Lyndsay! Now on to bigger and better!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

August 13, 2015: BYU Commencement

Road trip! The culmination of our summer was driving up to Utah to celebrate the culmination of Lyndsay's college experience at Brigham Young University. I got to drive with the three boys, which was awesome since two of them could help drive!

We drove up the day before. I actually really like road trips with the kids, being "stuck" together for a nice long time. We had some conversation, some laughs (Dylan is hilarious), and the boys got some reading done in between video game sessions.  Conor is working his way through the Far World series,

And Aiden was hard at work on his AP English Language assignment, reading and annotating The Fiddler in the Subway. Great book.

When we first arrived in Provo, it was late and we were starving. We drove right to Cafe Rio and ate dinner, and then headed back to the hotel to crash. Well, some of us wanted to crash. The boys were so hyped up and insisted on jumping on beds and throwing pillows around and laughing and, well, being boys. Which they apparently are slow to grow out of. But finally we were able to settle down after enough mishaps and Mom going slightly crazy.

The next day, we needed to work together to get Lyndsay moved out of her apartment before the ceremony. Her brothers worked hard packing and lifting for her. She had already done a lot of the work and cleaning, but man, moving is a huge job.

And, we realized, she has too much stuff.

She stored most of her things in the garage of one of her professors (whom she babysits for as well), and then some of it went in her car, and some in mine. Some we took to Deseret Industries to donate. Cleaning out her fridge and freezer meant that she made huge batches of smoothies and kept making us drink one after the other.

Then we all came back to the hotel room to get ready for the graduation.

The commencement was held at the Marriott Center on BYU's campus. We got there very early to be sure we could get good seats. My dad had flown in from North Dakota for this event, and Lyndsay's dad and his family had driven up from Arizona. Adam met us there from St. George, where he's been working. The one thing we all had in common was our love and pride in this girl we get to call ours.

Lyndsay's major was Bioinformatics, which is a conglomerate of computer science, genetics, and molecular biology. She minored in Computer Science. She's a real life scientist!

We are extra proud of her because my mom and I realized that Lyndsay is the first female anywhere in the family, both sides to receive her Bachelor's degree! She's a pioneer and she is paving the way for all of her female cousins and her future daughters and granddaughters.

After we were settled in our seats, Lyndsay had to leave us to go line up with the graduates. We waited anxiously. (And I enjoyed seeing Dylan all dressed up in a shirt and tie.)

Lyndsay texted me this picture of her and her best friend and roommate, Emily from the processional line outside. It made me tear up instantly. This is real! There is my girl in a cap and gown!

When the graduates started entering the stadium, they walked down several different aisles. I was scanning the blue caps, searching for my girl, when all of a sudden, I heard, "Mom!" There she was, walking right by us! We had picked a most fortunate spot to sit, and it melted my heart that she wanted to be sure that I saw her. I love the expression of pure joy on my dad's face. He graduated from BYU's undergraduate and law program so many years ago.

The faculty came and sat on the stand, along with the commencement speakers, Elder Russell M. Nelson and Elder Dallin H. Oakes, there in the front in the green and red robes.

The speakers were excellent and appropriately inspiring. The degrees were pronounced upon the graduates, and then they left the arena, officially finished with their programs. We got to see Lyndsay again as she filed past our row. Man, she glows.

We met up with her outside for hugs, tears of joy, and pictures.

All of us together, who came to celebrate our Lyndsay.

That day also happened to be Conor's 9th birthday. We had talked with him about postponing his celebration til we got home, but we still wanted to be sure he got a little birthday love. Here we are driving over to the restaurant. Love this boy.

We ate at Buffalo Wild Wings, though through a series of unfortunate circumstances, Adam never made it to dinner.

We surprised Conor with some birthday love.

I love this man so much. He is a hero to me, and it meant so much that he could be there to share in this joyous occasion.

My birthday buffalo.

We headed back to the hotel for some swimming and fun and then went to bed even more excited for the events of the next day.