The night before last, my eleven year old had a horrible nightmare. He appeared at my bedside and simply waited for me to become aware of him. It only took a moment. We mothers have finely honed spidey sense that is uniquely adapted to intuiting the distress of our offspring.
"What's wrong, babe?" I asked in a mumbling sleep slur. "I had a bad dream." It was a statement, not a plea. Because eleven year olds are actuely aware that they are eleven years old. He stood there, pale and trembling. He hadn't done that in a very long time. "Do you want to sleep with me?" He climbed in without a word. When he was in the bed, he slowly, shyly backed his behind up to mine. And it was enough. He slept.
We've all had those nightmares that are so real that they cannot be banished by merely waking haven't we? Even as adults, those dreams haunt a person. They compel us to seek out the company of others. To turn on lights. To check under beds and inside closets. To keep away from windows. To avoid turning our back on a darkened room. Recently Ryker had been sick with a really bad cold and RSV-like symptoms (you know.....wheezy breathing, gurgling sounds in his sleep), and I had a horrible dream that he drowned. The sick feeling in the pit of my stomach didn't leave me for a week and I was hyper vigilant to the point of being obsessive. I couldn't touch him enough. I needed to assure myself that he was still there. The terror, the grief, the feel of his cold limp little body in my arms as I begged nameless faceless people not to take him from me...it was so very real. I just couldn't shake it.
Another time, after hearing a news story about a toddler lost in the woods, who ultimately died after wandering in circles so long the feetie pajamas he had on were worn through, I repeatedly dreamt about being lost myself. *I* was that toddler, crying for my Mommy, wondering why she didn't come. I was so cold, so alone. That was probably five years ago, but I still remember the stark terror of that dream. I can remember the chill in my bones and the feel of the snow underneath my torn and bleeding feet.
As a child, I'm sure I had many nightmares, but there are a few that stand out for their vividness. One involved the bathtub drain. I was old enough when I had this dream to realize I was way too big to be sucked down the drain. But the dream was so very real that I couldn't bring myself to take a bath. Instead I showered standing as far as I possibly could from the drain. I was also old enough to realize that was unbelievably silly. Ashamed, I never told anyone. But I showered that way for quite some time.
Last night, Drew resisted going into his room. He did his homework at the kitchen table instead of at his desk. He asked to use my computer, instead of using his own. I wondered what was going on, but frankly, I haven't completely figured out this almost a teenager but sometimes still a kid phase yet, and so I left it alone. I had forgotten the nightmare. But he hadn't. It was still haunting him. When it was time for bed, he reluctantly and sheepishly admitted that he didn't want to go in his room. Now, Andrew tends to be a bit melodramatic, so Husband looked at me with his brows raised. "Go get in my bed" I said. Husband's brows raised a millimeter higher. But as an adult who still can't bear to sleep with the closet door open, I am sympathetic to the fears that plague the child in all of us in those lonely hours between dark and dawn. And I never underestimate the power of a dream. The relief on is face was a testament to that power. "He had a nigthmare" I said. Husband shrugged.
This morning, Drew said simply, "Thanks Mom." Sometimes, parenting is really hard. And sometimes, it's almost ridiculously easy. A safe place to sleep...the comfort of Mom, who is, of course invinceable, and can certainly banish any foe, real or imagined with just her...Momness...
I can do that.