I rarely remember my dreams, but the other day I woke up remembering my dream – that I had gone to the hospital to deliver a surprise baby and then was running for safety with said infant from a bear chasing us. Now, those of you who know me may know that I am terrified of bears. Like I have an irrational fear of bears. So me waking from a dream about bear danger is not that surprising to me. But the mysterious baby? One that needed protection from a rampaging bear? Now, that was a new one.
The thing is, I know that dreaming about bears can be interpreted as a personal struggle with a personal challenge. And most women who dream about babies may be wishing for a baby in their lives. I certainly did back before Mister Soandso and I had kids. But these days, I very much do not want any more babies. Also, I most certainly have some more challenging “challenges” going on in my life these days.
So, am I longing for a baby? Am I being chased by some problem that seems bigger than me?
Well, yes and no. Or to use proper parallel structure, no and yes.
When you are a parent, there is this hazy time when you can’t remember much about parenting your infant. But, at least for me, I do remember that there was a certain level of comfort in knowing that if my baby was crying, I had a definite list of things to try fixing. And chances were pretty good that a diaper change, a burp, or a feeding would cure whatever ailed my baby. If nothing else, just cuddling my baby was enough to sooth him/her into a happier state.
I have no babies these days. Truthfully, I’m ecstatic to no longer have sippy cups multiplying in my cupboards at night. But I also miss those days where if my child was upset, I knew how to fix it.
Littlest is struggling these days. He’s got a lot on his plate and there are no dividers keeping the jello from melting into the mashed potatoes of life. Because life doesn’t really have dividers like that. Instead, life is messy and as confusing as a smidgeon of strawberry flavor mixing in with the chicken gravy.
This is a Lego motorcycle that Littlest received this weekend from his uncle. Legos are a big deal in our family with pretty much every kid playing with them crazy amounts. Except that Littlest hasn’t really been the Lego kid the other kids are. Sure, he likes them, but he’s never been obsessed like his brother and cousins. And yet, since he received this Lego set, it hasn’t left his hand for much time at all. Around and around the living room/kitchen/dining room he drives it, up and over the back of the chair, across the coffee table, along the wall, and down the banister, and across the counter, again and again. With each rotation of those wheels, I have to hope that he’s working through the stuff that’s troubling him. That this Lego motorcycle is the tangible thing he needs to get up and over his obstacles.
I’m 99% sure he’s going to be okay and luckily, we are able to connect him with lots of folks who can help give him additional support. But that doesn’t change the fact that here I am on a Monday morning, worrying about how he’ll do today. Will he cry at recess again? Will his homework end in tears and yelling? Will his smile be the version that doesn’t make his eyes light up?
These days he’s too big to really snuggle, but we make do. I pull him onto my lap and every day more and more of him spills over the chair’s arm. Now when I pull him against my heart, his head is next to mine. And his hand isn’t much smaller than the one I hold him with.
And the truth is, as much as I long for the days when he was a baby and I could make things better for him, I cherish these days. Because these days I may not be able to make things truly better, but now he tells me how scared he is of the “monsters” he knows exist. These days he comforts me as much as I comfort him. I cherish this little boy who reminds me of his baby self but whose wisdom whispers of the man he’ll someday be.
I cherish him and the gift it is to be his mother.
Mostly, I cherish him.
So my sweet Littlest, remember this: You are the greatest gift I ever received that I never knew to ask for. Thank you.