Are you a big believer in dreams? I am. I think dreams can tell us a lot about ourselves. The thing that I dream about the most, the thing that really reveals the most about what's going in the deep, dark workings of my inner self, are snakes. In real life, I am terrified of snakes. Actually, terrified is a very modest description. It's more of an outer-body experience: I can see myself having the cold sweats, the tears, the hysteria, the uncontrollable shaking whenever I have a close encounter with a snake, but I'm not really there, I'm just looking down at this person who is having this freak out.
It isn't pretty. Just ask the kids.
But whenever I have stress in my regular life, known or unknown, I go to bed at night and dream about snakes, waking up hours later crying and whimpering and David shaking me gently and whispering, "Sh-hh, sh-hh, sh-hh". This has happened all my life, and I am convinced that I had some evil encounter with a snake in my early days that left me scarred for life.
One morning this spring, after having these dreams all week, I Googled snake dreams and what they mean. Once I got beyond all the scary pictures, I was actually surprised to learn that, among other meanings, they are signs of creativity and transformation, of resolving issues and of healing. After I read this, I felt comforted and uplifted. My mind was telling me to delve deeper into myself to see what all I could do and not be afraid to try new things. My mind was telling me to challenge myself, and I discovered this year, that I thrive on challenges, that they help me grow and to be confident. And the funny thing? After I looked up snake dreams and what they mean, I haven't had any since. I think I just needed to know why I was having them so much and once I found out, I could consciously begin to tap into that creativity and discover what I could do.
I told you I was fascinated by dreams.
This week, I began having a different dream. I've been dreaming of babies, little boy babies actually. The little tot has been really cute and very happy. In the dreams, he's been swaddled in blankets (I still can't swaddle a baby to save my life. David is the master at that and when the kids were infants, I'd just pass them off to him when they needed to be cocooned). The tiny boy is asleep, his little fingers gently playing with the edges of the blanket. In the first dream, he broke out into a glorious little smile and softly chuckled to himself; the second dream, he just slept, stretching every so often and then re-settling himself.
After I awoke this morning, I once again took to Google (because Mr. Google knows everything) and looked up the interpretation of baby dreams. Out of all the different meanings, this one made the most sense:
It kinda broke my heart because I realized that the boy in my dreams is Joe, but when he was a newborn and my mind is telling me that he's outgrowing the need for me. Yes, he's still home and needs to be reminded to take out the trash and still falls asleep in the backseat after a long day of kayaking or mountain biking, but he only has two years left of living with us before he's off pursuing a career as a park ranger. I've never allowed myself to believe that he'd ever leave us; with Meghan, I did. It broke my heart to think of her leaving us, but I could see her in college and I could see her as an adult living in Washington, DC and changing the world. But I won't allow myself to see Joe doing that.
Joe has been my sidekick for his whole life. We get each other, we both have the same temper (but he has David's rational, logical side. In fact, both kids inherited that same irritating quality from him) and we both are quick to laugh and to see the humor in the world. The two of us like doing yard work and playing in the water; the two of us both wonder about odd things (he asked me the other day why we have toe nails and he also has a fascination with hands and likes to talk about them); we both like a clean house and we both a healthy amount of curiosity about life. I need him to help keep me grounded and to keep being a mother. When he goes off into the Big World, who will take care of him and who will take care of me? I know that the role of a parent is to teach your child to leave you and to pursue his own way in the world, but it is the hardest thing to actually carry out and to do so successfully. Parenting is all about learning. You never stop learning. When I got frustrated with Meghan as a toddler, I used to tell her that I've never been a momma before and that I wasn't really quite sure what I was doing. And that is so true. You don't wake up one day and discover that you know all the parenting tricks in the book or that you have it all figured out.
Because you don't. You never have the right answers and Mr. Google never has the right answers. Books and the Internet can't tell you the right answers. You have to figure it all out yourself and to trust your gut that you made the right decision, that you chose the right words, that you picked the right time. It's all just a matter of trusting yourself and then keeping your fingers crossed that you raised a respectable and happy human being.
All this from having a dream.