I am down in the kitchen at 3:30 a.m., munching nervously on a bowl of grapes and cut-up banana. I’ve had a bad dream. I can’t sleep.
Normally I am not one to place much stock in dreams, despite their significance in the Bible and to psychologists. Most of my dreams are just too weird, and I usually chalk it all up to stress or the cheesecake (ahem) that I ate before retiring.
This dream, though, was jarring on so many levels that I simply have to write it down.
We were driving along, the kids and I, when I noticed a car in my rear view mirror. It was steadily gaining on me and seemed ominous, perhaps because it was nighttime and the driver had not turned on his headlights. As I was slowing down to take the on-ramp onto the highway, I jumped to see a policeman sitting in the passenger’s seat next to me. (Irrational dream bit begins here.) He was writing out a ticket but it was not a ticket; rather, it was his opinion—about me—written down on one of his citation forms.
The gist of his point of view was this: I was ruining my life by staying home with my five children.
I tried to get him to explain himself but he was gone. And then I saw that while I had been interacting with the Houdini policeman in my front seat, the boys had left the car (we were in a car, which again makes no sense) and were now returning.
They looked upset—greatly disturbed, even—and they were accompanied by an Hispanic kid who stood at the door and looked menacing. Jem looked as if he’d been crying, and when I looked closely I saw that he’d been hit in the face.
At that point the dream became a nightmare. I tried to get the boys into the car—I tried to lock it—but none of this was happening any time soon. You know how dreams can be. The last thing I remember before waking up is Joe walking away from the car and looking back at me.
He looked really sad…but still he went.
There are a couple of “themes” at play here. The first of them is the policeman’s opinion that I am ruining my life by staying home with my children. I am quick to dismiss that one, but I know from whence it comes. It’s that age-old attitude of the world outside my doors:
“Boy, you sure have your hands full.”
“I could never homeschool.”
“Are all those yours?”
Yet underneath my quick dismissal is a very real fear—one that stems from my many insecurities and a fair share of temptation—that I am ruining my children. That I’m not good enough to be their teacher. That I’m too impatient, too demanding, too disorganized, too me.
Perhaps that’s why in this dream my fear of failure was linked to another two of my anxieties—that of the children getting hurt and of their leaving. It pains me to think of either! And yet, I do think about it…
…to what end? What good do such anxieties do me? I can do little to prevent either occurrence, really, and in the latter case—that of their growing up and leaving—I shouldn’t try to prevent it. That would just be weird!
Anyway, this post is getting a little deep now. You are probably not standing at your computer, nervously chewing grapes and cut-up banana, while thinking about the policeman in your dream. But you may have the same fears as me, and as such, we can pray for and support each other.
After all, many of our fears are just a dream.
Ad Jesum per Mariam,