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A parent’s nightmare

July 16th, 2004 · No Comments

Katherine had one recently. I had one last night. I’m afraid to describe the details, as if the power of putting the words on a page will bring my nightmare into being. It’s been a while since I’ve had a dream that seemed as real, making me wake up early in the morning, making me wonder whether I should check the girls in their room. I lay in bed and prayed, afraid to fall asleep and re-enter the terror.

When I think about my dream in the daylight, I see clues that tell me it wasn’t true. For example, why was Denzel Washington standing on the sidewalk? But in the midst of the nightmare I was too scared to laugh at the strangeness of the signs. My grief and pain overwhelmed my rationality.

I think this is one of the first nightmares I’ve had that has involved me as a mom. When I was pregnant I would dream about the delivery and the new baby. But I don’t think I’ve had such torture in my sleep in my role as a mom. In my dream I was alone in an awful situation, away from Ted and the rest of the family, making desperate calls on my cell phone (recalling the number of a good friend in CA). When I woke in the morning, my eyes had a hard time adjusting to the day, but I wondered whether it was because I had been crying in my sleep.

When the girls got up, I was happy to see them, even if I did have to clean up something on the bathroom floor for one of them. The phrase “every parent’s nightmare” is a cliche used to describe a number of life situations, and this morning, I was glad to realize that my nightmare was literally a nightmare and nothing more.

Yet I suspect that having nightmares about my children is part of motherhood. It’s probably normal. I imagine that every parent has nightmares. After all, we have enormous emotional and psychological energy invested in our progeny. We love our children. We have hopes for them. We have dreams.

Tags: motherhood