Thursday, August 03, 2006

Waking up to appreciate the simple truths...

Fitful sleep lately has left me wondering what is going on in that head of mine during REM. Several mornings, I have awoken with clinched fists, nails digging red marks into my sweaty palms. Feeling almost as if I'd been fighting in my sleep, I cannot recall anything about my dreams. It has happened enough times to start to worry me, I'll admit. I don't have any extreme stresses going on to explain it either.

And, then there was the nightmare the other night, that I still can't get out of my head. That will never be erased from my memory, no matter how much I wish it could be.

It was one of those nightmares where when you awake, you know it couldn't be real, but you find yourself needing proof to even be able to catch your breath again. I don't do well when I have bad dreams about my children--not well at all.

When it comes to my mothering skills, I am my own worst critic. If I speak too harshly or shout at one of my children, I will berate myself for days about it, proclaiming to my husband that I am, in fact, "the worst mother in the world." This is not me being a drama queen. No, my family is filled with those. This is truly how I feel when I do anything that could harm the esteem of my kids, even when they've already long forgotten it. I have had a short fuse lately and I know that. And, it is something that has weighed upon me and yet is something I haven't been able to change much as of late, because I am not sure what is going on with me.

So, in my dream, I was a different mother from this. Selfish and careless, I seemed stoned or somehow out-of-it all through the dream. I felt myself in slow motion. I definitely felt drugged or like I was having some health crises that I knew was going on, but could not tell anyone about. And, I could tell by the people around me, that this was my normal behavior to them. That I was not expected to do anything really responsible or right in the world.

I don't remember the whole nightmare, but I remember that towards the end I was trying to drive a truck with my daughter in the carseat in the cab behind me. It was a balmy and humid summer day, much like we have here in Houston, but the scenery looked more like where I grew up. As I was driving, I noticed that I had a sleeping bag around my lower half, and the sleeping bag kept getting caught around my feet and sometimes under the pedals, making my driving scary and erratic. I remember feeling like I might pass out or go to sleep at any moment and not really caring or realizing what might happen if I did. I had several near misses of trees, parked cars and even people and I didn't seem to even flinch at them.

I came to a crowded parking lot area for some sort of restaurant or something very packed with people. I parked along the road, stepping out to go and find my mother and discuss our latest argument. I searched for her for some time and then finally found her, but as I found her it dawned on me (and simultaneously to her) that my daughter was not with me. I had left her in the hot truck, windows rolled up in 100 degree temperatures!

I started trying to run to find my truck, but my legs still were tangled in the sleeping bag. Once I got it off, my legs moved as if they were in taffy. And, everytime I thought I got to the place where I'd parked, the truck was not there. All the while, my mother was shouting, "CALL 911! Call 911! Oh my GOD, what have you DONE to her!"

I debated sharing this on here, because this is a dream I will never forget and it truly horrified me. I see news programs where this happens to people, and I always wondered how in God's name someone could forget their child like that. I should clarify that I have never done this in my life, nor have I ever had this numb feeling I was in all throughout my nightmare.

But, there I was in my dream, stumbling around in a semi-conscious state unable to find my little girl who was suffocating in my car. It was terrifying in my mind even in the dream, but my body would not react. Just before I woke up, I had the sense that she would be gone once we found her and that I would not be able to live with myself if she was.

And, then I woke up--sweating and shaking from the second my eyes opened. I realized it was all a nightmare. I caught my breath and looked at the clock. Ironically, this was a rare morning that both of my kids slept past 8 a.m. Normally, this would send me right back to enjoy an extra few minutes of sleep that I hardly ever get. But, not this morning.

While I felt bad doing it, I had to check my daughter, even though I knew it was just a nightmare. I opened the door and woke her from a deep sleep. I climbed into her new "big girl bed" and laid next to her, watching her eyes flutter awake and then droop back into partial sleep. Tears came to my eyes as I looked at her beautiful little face. Strawberry blonde curls framed her cheeks and her mouth even formed a little smile as she slept. How did God bless me so much to have this amazing creature in my life and to allow me to be her mother?

And, then she opened her eyes and put her hand to my face. "Good morning, Mommy" she said sweetly in her typical morning demeanor. She is always so happy to greet each day. "Good morning, sweet pea." I said. And, then I held her close to me and kissed her a dozen times on her head, thanking God with every kiss that she was fine and safe and here with me.

Sometimes, I think God works in very deliberate ways in our life to make us see things we need to see or change. This last half of summer, I have felt so frazzled. I've woken up feeling angry with those clenched fists, unsure of why I am so mad. And, the feeling keeps bubbling back up inside without warning as I fight to control it and understand why it is there. I have snapped at my husband and kids without warning. I haven't been a very fun person to be around some of the time. Even worse, feeling like I'm on auto-pilot some days, I have not taken the time to appreciate the precious gifts I have in my life or made them feel special. And, this hurts my heart to realize.

But, when I think about the mother that I could be--the mother that I was in my nightmare, I know that I am doing some things right with my children. They know they are loved and my top priority, even if I sometimes lose my temper. Maybe God was trying to make me realized that and go a little easier on myself as a parent. But, most of all, I think God wanted me to not to ever take their little souls for granted. Life moves so fast. Before I know it, they'll be all grown up and living their own lives away from me. How blessed have I been to have this time with them and see them grow and change right before my eyes! Sometimes it takes a really bad nightmare, to make you really see the simple truth staring at you when you are wide awake.
The theme at Mama Says Om this week is Simple. Click on over to check out what the other mamas had to say!


Blogger speedygeoff said...

That's a lovely story, CMC. Thank you for sharing it.

1:34 AM, August 04, 2006  
Blogger LadyBugCrossing said...

That kind of nightmare is the worst! You are a good mommy and don't you forget it!

8:45 AM, August 04, 2006  
Blogger Nicole said...

You are so right. It's easy to forget what we have and that it doesn't last forever. I've been experiencing the same stress in my sleep. I grind my teeth and wake up with my body feeling tired and tense. I think a lot of it is coming from the current world events. I need to find a better way of dealing with things!

You need to know that you are a fantastic mom. I can tell just from reading your blog. People who don't care what kind of moms they are are the moms that need to evaluate themselves more...

9:32 AM, August 04, 2006  
Blogger Alison said...

I've had several scary dreams like that in the past--when my 5-year-old was a newborn, I kept dreaming I had accidentally left him in the car in freezing weather, and when I'd remember and run out to check on him, I'd find him frozen to death, even encased in ice. (Highly unlikely in central Texas!) I've also had quite a few about driving completely out of control, unable to stop the car from swerving or hitting things, though at least I haven't dreamed the kids were with me in the car at the time... I'm sure the dreams are just our ways of sorting things out, but unfortunately they can stay with you!

10:23 AM, August 04, 2006  
Blogger Babaloo said...

Dreams have always fascinated me. I don't think anyone reading or even you believe this was a literal dream. There is something going on in your subconcious that is bringing these images up to the surface in your dreams. If nothing else but to ease your mind, maybe you could read up on dreams and what certain themes and images represent? Could be insightful and/or entertaining!

1:54 PM, August 04, 2006  
Blogger Masked Mom said...

I think dreams are such an important part of understanding ourselves and the world--probably especially the nightmares or bad dreams, the ones that haunt us. It sounds like you definitely learned what you were "supposed" to learn from this one.

Thanks for sharing it with all of us!

3:46 PM, August 04, 2006  

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