Every time I think that I am making progress with this whole “Post Departum” thing, something like this happens.
How is a woman supposed to step forward into her more well adjusted phase when things like this go on? I mean, seriously! How is an empty nester supposed to let go of the rope, cut that last little apron string and launch herself into her “All About Me” period when she goes to bed on a perfectly calm night and has a nightmare that scares the living crap out of her?
I did NOT partake of any strange mushrooms, drink too much homebrew, eat a bowl of chili or sleep with woolen socks on my feet. I DID take a nice quiet soak in the hot tub, under the late summer stars, sip a cold glass of wine, and go to my bed all clean and refreshed. I should have slept like a baby.
I did not.
Instead, I slept like a crazy Mamma Bear watching her cubs get attacked by a whole troup of circus clowns.
Last night, the very LAST night of summer vacation, I had a terrible dream. Last night, when I most desperately needed my refreshing and revitalizing sleep, I had a dreadful dream.
I dreamed that I was meeting my son, Tim, to take him back to college. I was waiting on a big platform, like a train station. And a young man walked by who looked JUST LIKE TIM, except that he was covered in tattoos of stars and stripes and military mottos and American Eagles. And when I looked closer, I could see that he was sort of middle aged and balding and had little piggy eyes. Not my boy.
Another young man walked by, and for a second I thought that one was my Tim. But when I looked closer, I could see that he was older, and had a long grey beard and a big scowl on his face. Nope. Not mine.
Then I heard my boy, calling, “Mom!! Over here!” and I rushed to where he stood, holding a suitcase in his right hand, and wearing a winter coat. I hugged him hard, just like in real life, feeling my heart flood with my love for him, pressing my cheek to his.
But when I stood back, and held him out to look at him, I saw that he was just a very little boy, maybe seven years old. In my dream, I thought, “Oh, what was I thinking?! Why did I let him go and live on his own? He is still just a baby…..” The guilt of the moment was very real, and very powerful. It filled my mouth with the taste of metal and dust, and I felt my heart crashing against my ribs.
As I stood there, dream mother gazing at her dream son, I saw that under his winter coat, he was coated in sweat. You know the way young children, little boys, become rosy and sweet with sweat when they play? My boy was just like that, with his curly hair all sticky and matted to his head. And I put my hand to his head, and saw that there were hundreds of little bugs crawling through his hair.
I was repulsed, and alarmed and filled again with guilt. How could I have let my little one go out to fend for himself in the world like this?
My hand shook as I gently picked the beetles and hornets and centipedes from his hair, fearing every second that one would bite him. In my dream, I spoke to him softly and calmly, hoping to complete my task before he became aware of his danger. I plucked and soothed and talked until his warm, salty hair was clean again, and then I told him to go and take a shower.
And in my dream, filled with feelings of failure and love and fear, I heard me say to myself, “He is only a baby! He needs to come home to live for a while before he goes back out there to live on his own.”
I take him back to college on Saturday.