decision time. a loving mother’s straight-arm? or trust in God?

Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. “Who are these with you?” he asked. Jacob answered, “They are the children God has graciously given your servant.”
Genesis 33:5

Every night, when my kids were infants, I would slip quietly into their room and lay my hand on their backs to make sure they were still breathing. Sometimes, when they were fussy and I was afraid my touch would wake them, I would silently position my finger in front of their nose to feel their breath.

Infants. Who am I kidding? I did it for years. I just needed the assurance that they were breathing before I could sleep.

Tell me I’m not the only parent who’s done this.

I realize that my actions had nothing to do with whether or not they took their next breath. I was just checking for my own peace of mind. Laying my hand on their back was not what prevented them from dying of SIDS or some other freakish undetected “one minute they’re breathing and another minute they’re not” disease.

The Lord, in His mercy and grace, allowed my children take each tiny breath. By His mercy and grace, he still allows them to take their next breath.

Why am I thinking about this now? My kids aren’t at risk for SIDS anymore. My daughter will be 11 years old this year. My son just turned 16.

16. Two weeks ago, my son got his driver’s license.

And there it is.

Am I ready for this change? Of course not. and YES. YES I AM!

The two weeks before he got his license were particularly challenging chauffeur weeks for me. My daughter had drama camp from 9am to noon every day and my son got a summer job with flexible hours. My husband’s travel and work schedule made me the “go-to” guy with the car keys. I was spending hours and hours each day in FavoriteSon’s car with only 20 to 30 minute breaks in between drop-offs and pick-ups. By Thursday of the 2nd week, I was DREADING the thought of sitting in a vehicle.

Thursday was also the day FavoriteSon got his driver’s license.

Friday morning, I got up and drove PinkGirl to drama camp. I arrived back home about 20 minutes before FavoriteSon had to leave for work.

Decision time. Do I ride shotgun with him, drive home, drive back to pick him up and ride shotgun while he drives home? Or do I let him make the single round trip all by himself?


If I was WITH him he would be safe. If he drove by himself, he might get into an accident.

I know. I KNOW.

What was I going to do? Make him drive to work with my left arm stretched across the driver’s seat to protect him? Because THAT’S effective. Ummm hmmm. A loving mother’s straight-arm. More effective than a seat belt.

Just like a hand on his back.

I let him go. Literally. I didn’t even watch him drive away. Yes, I was ready for the break from driving, but more importantly, I was saturated with the knowledge that my presence in the vehicle with him had nothing to do with his safety. Not anymore. Our instruction and advice over the last year helped to prepare him, as did the two driver education courses he took. He was equipped for the responsibility. The State of Florida confirmed it by giving him legal permission to drive. All. by. himself.

His father and I still have so much more to prepare him for. But this? This we’ve prepared him for. This he’s ready for. Now, just like when he was a baby, his life is in God’s powerful and loving hands.

As hard as it is for me to comprehend, God loves my son more than I do.

Making safety the priority tells our children that we think God is incapable
of doing what He said He would do for His children . . . But when we put our confidence in God’s power
rather than the safety nets we place around our children we find that even children can learn to rely on God’s overwhelming presence to protect them as well as to enable them to flourish in the world system.
Tim Kimmel
Grace-Based Parenting

4 thoughts on “decision time. a loving mother’s straight-arm? or trust in God?

  1. 6 years left for us. That sound both long and short. On the one hand, not having to be the chauffeur does strongly appeal. On the other hand, letting my babies (well, one at least) out without an adult in the car–dude, I remember what it was like when I was that age. If my parents knew half of what we did in cars I would still be grounded!

    1. I’m giving you “face” right now.

      Besides, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I was a very good driver. I had a mustang with a 302 V8 engine. I know this because I changed the engine 3 times! Not because I blew them or anything. It just good maintenance. (by JSM)

  2. I love this post so much. Yes, I did the hand on the back and finger under the nose thing too. Actually I still do the hand on the back…but not because I need to check his breathing. Its because it brings me comfort. And now he’s 15 and wanting to get his learner’s permit. So we’re not too far behind you. As always, thanks for your wonderful perspective!

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