By TRACEY MICHAE’L LEWIS-GIGGETTS
“Saw these at the bank today and was instantly transported to the back seat of my Daddy’s car, where my mother, brother and I would sit, waiting for Daddy to finish cleaning banks. A red or orange sucker was always in his big, beautiful hands when he finished—the perfect thank you to us for being patient. Thank you, Daddy, for showing me the value and sweetness of hard work and the importance of taking care of family.”
When the head mama in charge here at MyBrownBaby posted the above picture and words on her Facebook page last week, I was moved to say the least. And while the sentiment of Denene being given, by both God and her dad, a tangible reminder of the grace and love they both have for her was amazing, what moved me the most about the whole account was the word that stands out the clearest in this image. This word best conveys the greatest gift Denene’s dad gave her—topping even the sweet suckers themselves—on days when, if I had to guess, he was most likely pressed well beyond the point of exhaustion.
Though Mr. Millner probably didn’t consciously realize it at the time (because rarely do we ever, as parents, consciously realize the emotional and spiritual deposits we are making in our children), by bringing something sweet for his sweet girl, he also brought her the ability to trust. To trust his consistency. To trust the power and safety found only in his presence. To trust his unconditional love for her. I suspect that this simple act allowed Denene to trust her dad would provide for her. She learned to trust that he would make her and their family a priority even in not-so-ideal circumstances. He worked hard to ensure that the sweetness of that sucker would be the only concern she’d have on the days she waited with her Mom and brother in the car. And though I’m sure he wasn’t a perfect man—because none of those exist—I’m also sure there were some big-ticket violations she would never experience at his hand and that would continue to fuel her trust.
The evidence that all my bold assumptions, all made without the benefit of speaking to Mr. Millner, are true is the fact that so many years later, a simple trip to the bank triggered such a beautiful and affirming memory for Denene. So much so that she decided to share it with the world.
This simple transaction spoke volumes to that little brown girl. It said, “Trust me, baby girl. All will be well.”
Oh what a gift!
Yes, it should be a given. But in many ways, it is a gift.
See…how many of us did not grow up with that sense of security? How many of us unfortunately had to stuff grown up worries and anxieties into our baby girl and baby boy hearts? How many of us learned as kids that people, particularly those closest to you, especially those closest to you, sometimes cannot be trusted? And finally, how many of have spent our entire adulthoods—might even still be spending them—unraveling from the threads of fear sewn into our lives early on; the damage caused by having no one to deposit a sense of safety, security, and trust in us as children?
Entirely too many of us.
And now, we have children.
Thank you, Mr. Millner, for indirectly showing me one of the most important action items for raising my own sweet girl.
If I’m honest, I’ve recently begun to notice my three year old responding to me and her dad’s daily frustrations in a way that seems to be siphoning away her sense of security and safety. She knows we love her deeply but unfortunately, it can be way too easy to slip into a mode of complaining and arguing without being conscious (there goes that again) of the impact our behavior has on the little person who’s watching from the stairs or listening in her room. My K is an extremely sensitive and scary discerning child even at three, so the reality is, if we are not careful, her trust, her sense of safety and security will be unintentionally shaken—by our own hand.
And that makes me cry even as I write this.
I don’t want that for her. I don’t think any parent does.
And while on one hand, I do think it’s good for children to observe some forms of conflict so they understand that it is inevitable and resolvable, I also don’t think at very young ages, it’s a good idea to shake their foundations too often. We shouldn’t leave little imprints of anxiety on their hearts.
So going forward, I think I’ll take a chapter from the Millner book of parenting and, no matter how exhausted my mind, heart and soul may be, deposit some sweetness in my baby girl’s heart as well as her hand. She should always know that it’s okay to trust—that Mommy is one of the few safe places in her world.
And for those of us who feel like we missed out; who have been hurt because no one deposited the gift of trust, safety and security in our hearts as children, there’s hope. There is a God saying exactly this:
“Even now, trust the power and safety found in My presence. Trust my unconditional love for you. Trust me, baby girl or baby boy. All will be well.”
Tracey Michae'l is a writer and educator based out of the Philadelphia area. She is a wife to William and a mother to a beautiful two-year old little girl. You can find her on the web at www.traceymlewis.com.