Occasionally, over the past few months, and every night, for the past few nights, I have been having terrible dreams. They are all slightly different versions of the same dream, actually…if you are a mother, I would be willing to bet you have had them yourself. In this dream, my youngest daughter has gone missing. She is gone without a trace. I am searching for her frantically, and no one seems to be nearly as concerned as they should be. I find myself unable to trust anyone because no one has any idea what has happened to her, so it could be anyone. Not last night, but the night before, the last part of the dream consisted of me sitting in a car with her father. I looked at him, in so much emotional pain that I could barely remain in my skin, and I asked him “do you think she is still alive?”. I woke up before he could answer me.
The weird thing about this dream is that, usually, we find her again. It is always three days that she is missing, and when she shows up, she can’t tell us anything about where she has been or who she has been with. Last night, when I tried to question her about who had taken her, she just fell apart crying, and I couldn’t bring myself to ask anything more. Also odd is that, despite my relief at having her back, those three days that I lose are maddening for me. I cannot bear not knowing what happened to my child. The dreams are very disturbing and awful. I have no idea why I am having them, or what I can do.
Camryn is a whirlwind of a child. She has more energy coursing through her than three average three year olds put together. Spending long periods of time with her can be…challenging, to say the least. She is never quiet. She is never still. She is ALWAYS getting into things she shouldn’t be, “experimenting” with my favorite earrings, pouring milk in her kaleidoscope, decorating my books with her drawings. When I scold her, she asks me “Do you still love me, mommy?” and I tell her that there is NOTHING she could do that would ever make me stop loving her. There is nothing.
Her mind is as busy as her body. She has hundreds of questions, every hour of every day, ranging from “Do rhino’s get lonely?” to “why do people speak Spanish?” to “Why does that lady have a little girl, too?”. I don’t always have answers for her. But sometimes, I don’t WANT to answer her. To be honest with you, sometimes, I just want her to stop bugging me. I have a lot going on in my head, too, and it’s hard when you can’t sort anything out because your kid NEVER STOPS TALKING. EVER.
I am impatient. I am snippy and short and sometimes meaner than I ought to be, especially when I have too much to deal with at once, or I have been too long between stretches of quiet. I forget to play, sometimes, and I definitely forget that, when it comes down to it, I am dealing with a beautiful, perfect, happy, wonder of a child. A child who says “This water feels WONDERFUL.” When she is in the bath, and asks me “Wanna snugga bugga?” (cuddle) when she crawls in bed with me. The same kid who painted all my spare change with nail polish is also the kid who won’t let me say a harsh word against her sister, thinks her dad and I are “so beautiful” and asks for a hug when she gets in trouble.
Maybe these dreams are supposed to remind me to be infinitely grateful for my perfect, healthy, gorgeous children. Because I tell you what- when I wake up, night after night having these dreams, the first thing I do is reach for that little girl. I hug her and kiss her little arms, and I am still terrified, but I am so relieved. And every day, I try to remember to be better. I don’t always succeed, that’s for sure. But I do try. Today I am going to try even harder. Because I love that girl. Both of my girls. And also, I need to get some damn sleep.