Monday, February 6, 2012

what's it all mean???

this weekend i had a dream. one of those really vivid dreams where you wake up reeling, pondering the illogical steps, wondering if you dreamt it for a reason, questioning what it might mean. when i woke up saturday morning, i remembered that the dream had begun with me driving jack to the home of the people i baby-sat for when i was in 7th grade. i drove up the winding driveway, and i have no knowledge of what i was actually doing there, just the impression that i had dropped jack off and drove away.

then john and i were at some country club-ish type place having dinner. it was warm, and we were overlooking a golf course. other people were there. and we were engrossed in conversation. and then i remembered...

jack was alone at this house. i had dropped my son off and no one was watching him.

john and i immediately got into a golf cart and tried navigating our way through a maze of cars, trying to find ours, so we could hightail it out of there and get to our son. we were scanning the rows and rows of cars, but we couldn't find it, and i was panicking.

all of the sudden, some random man offered to drive us, and we got into the back of his pick-up truck, silently praying that jack was ok. i just kept thinking, "oh my god, if my son dies, it will be my fault. how could i have left him alone?!? what was i thinking?" and john kept staring at me, not saying anything, but i could tell he was thinking, "what the EFFFF, stephanie? what in the world would possess you to leave a 15 month old alone?"

on this ride from the country club to the place i had dropped off my son, i kept thinking of my mom and how i would have to tell her what i had done. how she would be disappointed in me. how she would think to herself, "what was she thinking? what kind of a mother does that?"

and then i started thinking about what i would do if he was gone. and in the dream i felt so nauseated at the idea, so upset and heartbroken that i screamed out, and john looked at me as if to say "SHUT UP! you got us into this mess." so i'm emotionally writhing in the back of a pick-up truck driven by a man i don't know on a road i'm not familiar with desperately trying to hold onto the hope that jack is alive and well.

i don't know how the dream ended because i woke up sweating, my heart racing. i immediately grabbed the video monitor and turned it on to see my sweet little peanut, breathing in and out peacefully. all was right with the world. i went downstairs, threw in a load of laundry, made some coffee and took a few things out for breakfast.

but i couldn't shake the dream. how had i managed to make such an egregious error in judgment, even in a dream? what did it mean? did it mean that i'm not paying enough attention to jack? that i'm too consumed with work, with john, with myself, with projects, with housework, with friends?

when john woke, i relayed the dream to him, still panicky about it. "john!" i wailed, "seriously, it was so awful. is this an omen? what am i forgetting? what are we letting slip us by about jack? is something wrong?"

"what? you're crazy. seriously, it was a dream. should i get some beer for tonight? do you want to have a movie night?" he shrugged off my worries, as per usual.

"JOHN! I AM SERIOUS! this is bad. i just know it. it was so real. and it's been eating at me ever since!" my voice reached that pitch that signals hysteria to john.

"ok, that's enough. WHAT is going on with you? are you fishing for compliments? (he asks me this everytime i worry about something i've made, sewn, cooked, etc.) you know you're a good mom and you know jack is fine, so just. stop. it."

and that was the end of our conversation about it, but not the end of my worry over what it might mean. because isn't that motherhood, to a t? a lifetime of busy fragmented by tiny moments just long enough to catch your breath and point a magnifying glass on yourself and your parenting and worry if it's good enough? am i reading to him enough? am i feeding him enough of a variety of foods? is he social enough? is he too social? does he have an appropriate fear of strangers? is he adventurous? is he too adventurous? does he have an appropriate grasp of concepts of danger and safety? do we need more of a routine? are we being too rigid about a routine? while i do worry, i have to say that as jack's gotten older, i've gotten better about worrying. i just don't have enough time to do it.
but in the lull before the day begins, in the early hours of the morning, as the sunlight peaks in through my kitchen and i sip on my freshly brewed coffee, i do find myself wondering if i'm doing a good job, if the way i'm navigating motherhood is the right way.

it's an awesome responsibility, no? to be in charge of shaping and directing and molding and teaching someone else? i am often struck by the mountainous undertaking of raising a child. because it's not like you can correct missteps in judgment easily. it's not like you can change course immediately if you decide your disciplinary methods or your overall approach is lacking. you basically have to figure this shit out and have it down. and execute, execute, execute. and there are no do-overs. you get these little people for a very small window of time, and then you have to give them up and hope you gave them enough to help them succeed.

and so it goes. life continues, a string of moments where you're feeding them, changing their diapers, soothing their owie's, reading them their stories... but mixed into these seemingly ordinary moments are extraordinary opportunities to shape them into good people. people who know right from wrong, good from bad. people who will (hopefully) grow to be intelligent, strong and compassionate leaders. i just hope i'm doing a good job.

maybe i talk about being a mom too much. on this blog, in my life, in general. maybe you're tired of hearing about it, and for that, i do apologize. i guess i never expected to be so changed by this. yes, i knew it would be amazing and life-changing and a huge and awesome responsibility, but i guess i just couldn't even comprehend what that even meant. sometimes i don't even get it know, but then it overwhelms me, after a dream like i had friday night. or in the aisle at joann fabrics when i say "1" and jack counts "...2! ... 3!" and i get tears in my eyes because he's so proud of himself and i'm so happy for him. after i say "give mommy a hug" and he wraps his arms so tightly around my neck and nuzzles his little face in so sweetly, and i think, "i hope i always remember this moment." or when he wakes up at night (just the past few days) because he's cutting his eye teeth, and he looks up at me with that face of misery that screams "hold me, rock me," and we cuddle together until his breathing finally gets rhythmic. or when he crawls into my lap begging me to read "five little pumpkins" or "are you my momma" for the 8th time that day, and i am powerless to resist his excited little smile. no matter how many times i've already said it, i have to say it again, i love being a mom. i love it more than i knew that i could, and there is nowhere i am happier than when i am with my son.

any moments of worry over whether i'm doing this right are certainly overshadowed by the moments of pure joy and happiness that accompany them. and i guess that's what i'm choosing to take from my dream nightmare. mothering will always include some modicum of worry over whether i'm doing this right. there will never be a day that i won't feel some anxiety about my son and whether he's okay. and from talking to my mom, who's over 27 years into this mom thing, apparently that's going to be true FOR.EV.ER. FOR.EV.ER.

so, if you're a lifelong worrywart like i am, just know... we got this! if you're up around 6 a.m. on saturdays and you're in the dubuque area, feel free to come over for a coffee/conversation support group in my kitchen.


  1. 2 nights ago I dreamed that we were out somewhere, and I realized that not only had I left Johanna home alone, but there were also 2 strange cable guys, who were most certainly child molesters, in our family room setting up our cable...? I woke up in sweats, this time not from postpartum hormones.

  2. Ahhh, the breastfeeding sweats... not so different than the SHIT!-I-LEFT-MY-BABY-ALONE-IN-A-DREAM sweats. :) Miss you! Hope you're doing well! xoxo

  3. I like the idea of 6 a.m. support group....I mean look at all the problem solving that would be accomplished before 9 a.m.!!

  4. I agree! I've got a coffee-maker. And a coffee grinder. And some very delish coffee beans that my brother-in-law brought me from a great little place in AZ. Just sayin'...