By TRACEY MICHAE’L LEWIS
I’m the worst passenger in a car. Anyone who knows me well, knows to pop a couple of valiums before driving me anywhere long distance because stress is most certainly a’coming. Because of several car accidents over the course of a couple of decades, I’ve developed a serious case of PTSD when someone else is driving. I grip car doors, press my phantom brakes into the floor until my foot aches, breathe like a pregnant woman about to deliver, refuse to go to sleep no matter how long the trip, and have been known to tarry fo’ Jesus aloud if a semi gets way too close.
Yes, it’s that deep.
So imagine what it was like over the last week when me, my toddler daughter, and my hubby drove to my home state of Kentucky from the Philadelphia area for Christmas.
Yet without fail and despite having a lead foot for a husband, God helped me see through my tears to find the lesson in what otherwise might have had me under the bed instead of writing this blog. And of course, my teacher would haaave to be Ms. K herself.
For the last leg of our trip—from our hotel in Pittsburgh where we’d stopped for the night to Philly—we decided to leave super early in the morning (3am) in order to get back home in time to rest and enjoy our New Year. After about two hours of driving, my husband asked me to check on K who earlier had been eating some Cinnamon Toast Crunch and chilling in her car seat surrounded by the millions of toys she’d acquired from her Nanny and Granddaddy. I was sure she was sleep. I mean, it was 5am, dark as night, and she couldn’t dance, run, or backflip. She was definitely sleep, right?
When I looked back, all I saw were the big, round chestnut eyes of my baby girl staring out to the road ahead.
“You alright, Sug?”
“Yes, Mommy. I’m paying attention to the road so we don’t crash.”
That would ordinarily be just another hilarious moment for the raising-a-toddler vault if she weren’t verbalizing my own fear. I was devastated. My child was refusing to sleep because she thought that by doing so, she could prevent us from having an accident. The same thing I’d been doing with all my gyrations throughout the trip.
My fear had become hers.
I had no idea.
How many times do we as parents unconsciously transfer our fears to our children? It doesn’t just show up in obvious things like the fear of driving, flying or doctors. Example: Some of us were never able to step out on faith and pursue our dream of being *insert anything here.* Or maybe we did but, for whatever reason, we failed. Then here comes our fearless babies courageously pursuing their own purpose, and some of us are inclined to quench their passions. Out of fear. Or we run down all the negatives we experienced. Out of fear. Doing this effectively gives them our fears and failures as opposed to our encouragement and prayers.
It has to stop. For me and, if this applies, for you. I never, ever again want to look into my child’s face and, instead of seeing three-year old wonder and discovery, see my own fear staring back at me. She’s so much like me in many ways, but I pray not in this one.
So yes, let’s leave this conscious and/or unconscious transference of fear in 2014. Sure, we should teach our kids boundaries. We can show them how to take precautions and be wise in their decision-making. But let’s also let them uncover their own paths. Unfortunately, because of the world our babies live in—brown babies, in particular—they will inevitably come face to face with their own fears much sooner than later. So let’s commit to not piling more on them than their designated load. They don’t need to carry our stuff and their own.
How do we do this? Especially when we don’t often realize that we are doing it? Well I can only refer to my faith for guidance.
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control. – 2 Timothy 1:7 (AMP)
In 2015, let’s start by working on being fearless ourselves. That way, we are able to pour out double portions of love and power to our babies. That way, they learn to approach the craziness of life with calm and balance.
Happy New Year!
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This post is the latest in Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts’ “Faith & Motherhood” series.