I am in love with my 8 children. I have been with them, moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day. FOR YEARS.
I have fed and watered them. I have changed their diapers, I have made them countless meals. I have loved them through all the ups, downs and sideways of life.
One of my jobs as their mommy is to keep them safe. I have done that, at least for the most part.
And then they turn 15 and 16 and they do this thing. They ask me, "Mom, Can I Take the Car?"
A car is a two-ton vehicle. With wheels.
I don’t want them driving on their own, sharing the road with drunkards and texters. I want MY CHILDREN in MY HOME, for the rest of their days, molding.
This is the question that is screaming within me: How Can I Let My Child Drive Away Without Me?
I am over halfway down my pile of kids and IT HAS NOT GOTTEN ANY EASIER. I still freak and stress when an inexperienced driver GETS BEHIND THE WHEEL and giddily backs down the driveway.
Note: One new driver didn’t only back down the driveway, she also went into the grass, taking out one of our lamp posts.
Why this is on my mind: we have two brand new drivers: Malaysia, 17, just got her full driver's license. Thomas, 15, just got his learner's permit.
Several years ago, when our fourth child, Matthew, was 16, I was looking for an answer to my admittedly over-protective, hovering mama heart in Scripture and this is what I found: A lot of nice strong words about TRUST. Ugh. That word. It’s a little hard to trust you, God. This is my kid we are talking about here.
I wasn't sure what to do with all of this anxiety so I finally got on my bike and went to a nearby trail.
As I peddled I said aloud, “God, I spent a lot of time creating my Matthew. I love this kid. I have POURED INTO HIM. How can I let him GO?"
The first thought that came to me: I pictured a chuckling God, saying, "YOU CREATED HIM?" and laughing.
I easily understood that even though I love my kid and even though he was formed within me, I didn't do the forming.
The thought, although a good one, didn't help. I rode. I rode for miles in the hot sun, thinking about my child.
I finally stopped my bike, got off and raised my face to the heavens. “Lord, I know You can speak into my heart. I am open and I am asking for Your guidance and direction here. My fear is going to make my kid fearful.”
I got back on my bike and with tears streaming down my face, I waited expectantly. This is what bubbled up into my consciousness. Note: it didn't form this nicely, but here is the gist of it:
“Lori, do you remember when you had three kids and you wanted more?”
“Yes, my baby was almost three and I knew it was time for another.”
“And what did your husband want?”
“He was totally done having children.”
“Remember how you handled that?”
I smiled. “I do. I told Russ that I respected his decision to be done but that I felt like we were to have more kids. I told him that I was going to pray to The Holy Spirit and if it was God’s Will that we have more children, then I trusted that He would change Russell’s heart.”
“And then what did you do?”
“I prayed. I asked You to OPEN Russell's heart to life again. I prayed hard."
“And was your prayer heard and answered?”
“Yes! In such a great way.”
I smiled, as I knew where this was going, “Well, about a week later Russ came to me and asked me if I’d be willing to bear another of his children.” (THE SEXIEST LINE HE HAS EVER SAID.)
“And what happened that very night?”
“Matthew Edward Doerneman.”
“Lori, hear me loud and clear. That child was a gift to your husband and his willingness to be open to life again.”
“Yes, really. We created Matthew with special care. We took all of Russ, his personality, his coloring, his attention to detail, his brains, and we poured it into his son, so your husband could CLEARLY SEE THE GIFT GIVEN.”
I thought of our other six biological kids. They all look or act mostly like me. Matthew is the ONLY mini-Russell. (Except now he’s way taller than his 6.1" dad because all of our children possess this gigantic gene.)
“WOW. You really are in control of everything, aren’t you?”
“Yes. We know it’s difficult, but you can trust US.”
I peddled for several miles then said, “Okay, that is nice and all, but what if he gets into an accident? What if he dies?”
Silence. Then a quiet, “Lori, what is so bad about death?”
My mama heart whispered, “That’s not really what I signed up for, you know.”
As I peddled and coasted, I realized that I kept wanting to take my life and divide it into these neat packages with guarantees. God wasn't about that life. He wanted me all in. He wanted my mama trust.
And this is what pounded into my head:
Trust.In.Me, LORI. I am big enough for you and I am big enough for yours.
I slowed down. I stopped on the trail. I got off my bike, bowed my head and lifted up my arm; I gave the baton (which represented all of my heart) to God.
Peace descended and I wrapped it around me like a blanket.
So, there you have it. That is the gift I received in regards to my teen driver and how I can easily say YES when he casually asks, "Mom, can I take the car?"
I share this for you mothers of 14 and 15 and 16 year old kids. It is difficult to let go. There is a plan and our teen drivers are not really ours; they are a dynamic part of God's Own Heart.
Because I need reminders, I put this note in several places:
“I am big enough for Matthew. Love, God”
Over the years, new notes have appeared:
"I am big enough for Bridget. Love, God."
“I am big enough for Malaysia. Love, God.”
“I am big enough for Thomas. Love, God”
By the way, Matthew is now 20 and he bought this. Do not even get me started.
P.S. I Love Thinking about How GOD Loves My Kids More than I Do! If you'd like to read a dynamic story about how God intervened in our life with Malaysia, read about it in this popular post: Divine Mercy + Our Adoption Story
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