I love new beginnings. I love fresh starts. My two daughters, Bridget and Malaysia, age 18, are starting off to college and I am truly excited for them.
Bridget is heading off to Fort Hays University and Malaysia will be going to WSU Tech while living at home.
This will be the first time my daughters will be separated from each other. And I’m delighted for both of them.
My feelings are happy and positive for my girls. I am not mourning or sad. And, to be honest, I questioned that. Why am I, the mother, only excited for my daughters? Is this a genuine emotion or is there a trap door of sadness within me?
So I sat down. Got quiet. And allowed all of the big emotions to wash over me. If you have children leaving for college, I encourage you to do the same.
I began with Bridget…and I thought of when I first saw her after a pretty dramatic birth. (I know your thoughts about your child will be totally different. But hold your child up to the light...allow a deeper process to occur.)
Bridget was born purple. And very little. She had the umbilical cord wrapped twice around her neck and so she was induced almost a month early.
She was lethargic for the first 48 hours, due to my own stupidity (I took meds to help me sleep during the process of induction. Guess what? That was passed to my little one inside. Duh, Mama Lori. Duh.)
She had issues for the first year of her life. She was so teeny tiny that she was never on the growth chart. She could not hold her head up. She never crawled. Her hair did not grow. She was yellow and sickly looking. Oh, and snotty. Very snotty.
Most of that was due to my own ignorance about food and food allergies. Once I got some high powered nutrition into her system, she flourished.
But her first year was not so pretty.
And now I look at my daughter. She is tall and radiant. She is physically fit and takes very good care of herself.
She loves children deeply and they follow her wherever she goes. She is like a Pied Piper of kids. She is also naturally artistic, which is awesome to have in the house. Whenever we need something cool written, we have her do the lettering.
Bridget is quite awesome. And yes, she does drive me crazy every so often. But nothing out of the ordinary.
Am I frightened of her being immersed in the college atmosphere? Nope. I am not. Why not? Well, God has a plan for my child. And He is big enough for her. I want her to have fun but set clear boundaries on her extracurricular activities. We’ve discussed things like that. She has heard me. And now she gets to make her own decisions. She gets to become who she wants to be. I love that.
And she knows she can always call home for help and guidance. The college years are fantastic. It’s our time as parents to be the guardrail when they need it. We are no longer in the midst of their every day.
Yes, letting go of our children is difficult. I get that. But we spent 18 years so they COULD leave. That’s the whole point of having children: build into them, care for them, be there for them….so they can have a life of their own. It’s a tremendously satisfying journey. We help them grow up big. Grow up strong. And then we let.them.go.
Now, a bit about our daughter, Malaysia. I first met her when she was four years old. You can read more about her adoption story here.
Her birth story is actually quite similar to Bridget’s. She was born early. She was sickly. Underweight. Undernourished.
Isn’t that fascinating in a weird way? My two “twins” were born in different places but started out in very similar ways. In fact, when I read through all of Malaysia’s medical records, she had the same therapists that Bridget had. The.very.same.people treated both of them!
When we adopted, Malaysia went through the normal ups and downs of transitioning to a new family, but as I read through adoption horror stories, I can tell you that her transition was pretty darn smooth overall.
And for that I praise God.
And my husband Russ. He is one of the most patient men. I am always the salty one and he is the deep anchor in our home. Again, I praise him for his vision and calm.
Malaysia is 18. She is absolutely gorgeous. And her heart is as big as Kansas. Truly. Ask any of us who the kindest Doerneman is and we’d all point to Malaysia.
She is not vindictive or salty or mean. She is kind. Now, with kindness can come the inability to say no to others, which is not so good. I can see that she is learning boundaries and how to stand up for herself, like when someone wants to walk all over her at work. She is learning how to say no and how to be strong about it. I love that.
Malaysia is also highly observant. Her brain takes in details that most people miss. We have all come to rely on this obscure observational thing that she has going on. One time my son Matthew woke Malaysia up and asked, “Where is my brown jacket?” She sleepily replied, “In the backseat of the car.”
She just sees and records things. And we love having that skill in our home.
Malaysia is currently thinking that she wants to go into social work. Her heart is geared towards others and I’m excited to see how she steps into that. And I know she will.
How do I know that?
A long time ago I was told that Malaysia will be successful in life not because of Russ and Lori Doerneman, but because of our children. And I see that clearly. Our eight children are a safety net, a cheering section, a massive support system for each other. And they keep bringing in amazing people to that group.
(Thank you, Lucy, Jessica and Abbey, for being exactly who you are with all of your unique qualities and gifts and for saying yes to my sons. We love the addition of you to our family.)
So. My two girls. Both 18. Both on the brink of adulthood. Both are ready. And I, as their mama bear, am beyond excited for them and now I feel confident in the reasoning behind my joy.
Daughters of mine, I know where you both started. I clearly see how you have matured and developed into wonderful young women. I know that God the Father has His Hand on both of you in an intimate, special way.
And He is not anywhere near being done with you. (or with any of us!)
My prayer, always my prayer, is that you both open to that eternal love. That you let Him into your “you of you.” That you let Him be the main influence of your entire life. Now, that sounds big and strong. But actually, it’s easy. When you let Him in He does this thing without you even knowing. He RADIATES out into the world, with your words, your smile, your kindness and your way of living.
As you go through the next four years, you know that Dad and I are here for you in our nest. Go, fly a bit. Meet new people. Study. Learn. Have fun. Circle back when needed. We are here for you.
Fly, my sweet girls. Fly.
P.S. We have a free series for Moms! Raising Strong Kids in Today's World
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