We have, by and large, escaped (thus far) with very few bad dreams. There are the occasional snuffling visits to our bedside in the middle of the night, but I can think of fewer than five times where someone has woken up hysterical because of a nightmare. I'm okay with that. I think the only thing worse than being woken up by a barfing child, is being woken up by a screaming child. All that being said, our family shares a recurring Bad Dream: A Bear Was Chasing/Eating/Doing Something To Me. All the children have had it on and off (Noodle even had a series of the bear dreams where the bear was tickling her, but it still wasn't a nice dream) and even Dadam has experienced a Bear Dream.
Last week it was my turn. I woke in the morning with the most vivid memory of a very involved Bear Dream.
We were all together, playing at a large park bordered by a forest. The children were playing Frisbee with Dadam and friends of ours. There were lots of people. All of a sudden, out of the forest, came two bear cubs followed closely behind by a very large mama bear. None of the other adults were even remotely concerned, but I panicked. I left the park to find something to scare the bear away with. Meanwhile, on the advice of another parent at the park, Dadam was standing around, doing nothing, as the children lined up to be mauled by the bear. (What my subconscious throws up on me while I am trying to regenerate is nothing short of bizarre.) I reappeared with a large car and proceeded to drive into the park, honking loudly, only to find that the momma bear had been tranquilized and that Noodle had been mauled and taken away to the hospital.
What the crap?!?!?
I was disturbed enough by the dream that before sleeping on the night following, I looked up what bears in dreams are supposed to signify. I was trying to figure out what the hell my subconscious was trying to tell me. I don't often put much stock in woo-woo websites that do dream interpretation, but I also don't want to miss some signal my inner self might be trying to send. I like to be open to possibilities. What I found was very interesting.
Being chased by a bear in a dream is supposed to represent conflict and bears in general represent introspection and self. So maybe, just maybe, this dream is about me; me thinking that I'm not a Good Mom, me being afraid that somehow I am stunting or damaging my children in ways that I don't recognize or understand. And the part about everyone else standing around and doing nothing about the bear? This is because the bear is me and no one else sees my mothering as problematic, even Dadam is doing nothing because he doesn't see a problem.
Which brings me to the incredible amount of mommy guilt I carry around and bring out to flog myself with, whenever the situation seems to call for it. Laying awake at night regretting choices made when the kids were babies? Check. Worrying that the consequence we've established is too harsh? Check. Are they in the right school? Do I kiss them enough? Am I being a helicopter mom? Am I neglectful? Do I expect to much? Feed them the right foods? Are they exposed to enough new ideas, thoughts, feelings? Do I force my will on them too much? Have I messed them up?
I just don't know.
I suppose what I do know is that I love them very much; more than very much, tear my heart out, lay down my life, blossoming, beautifully, amazingly, all consumingly. I know that I try my best every.single.day. Some days I do A Great Job, some days I do a Not So Great Job. I know that at the end of every day I try to identify what went well and, well, what didn't, so that tomorrow I can try and do better. And I know that not only do I love them, I Like them. That's gotta be worth something, right?
Right. The kids are alright. I can only keep doing my best and hope that they turn out to be alright in the end. I should probably stop self-flagellating. That's not very healthy. Plus, those bear dreams are crazy.