I had a terrible dream last night, the kind of dream that scares parents more than any other, and the dream that most of us have at one time or another. The dream came in the last sleep cycle of the morning, after my alarm had rung twice and I ignored it twice, settling back into the warmth of my husband for a few minutes before the day really began.
Four hours later I am still unsettled, the scratches of the nightmare’s fingers still hot on my skin.
I tend to have very dramatic, vivid and strange Dali-esque dreams. I always have. I usually do not have the gentle kind, the sort where kind ghosts of long-gone family and friends visit to chat, or where hopeful images of future play out over green fields and under blue skies. Perhaps I am too much a pessimist, a worrier for those. I also do not usually remember my dreams. Given their nature, that’s probably a good thing.
I am of the school who believes that dreams are our mind’s way of unraveling the mysteries of our days, the worries, fears and hopes that tangle in our thoughts without attention during our busy waking lives. I’m not sure how much I believe in the symbolism of dreams — if I’m swimming in a dream, does it have to be a metaphor for my personal struggles or fears?
I’m told that you can control your dreams, to use them to your advantage. If you have a problem you can’t figure out, focus on it before sleep and an answer will come in your relaxed mind. Or focus on those happy positive thoughts and that will be the substance of your sleeping images. I’m usually too sleepy to attempt this, most nights falling asleep with my glasses still on, a book open on my chest. But maybe I’ll try it again sometimes, anything to never have last night’s terror again.
About last night, using the dream interpretation approach. My primary job, as I see it, is to keep my family safe and healthy and whole as each one grows more into who he or she will become. I think I felt a bit of a failure yesterday in the safety department. In the hustle and fun of our early-start holiday, I forgot to put sunscreen on my fair-skinned family until just before lunch, after we’d already been outside for a few hours. Most of us got a bit sunburned, which I didn’t notice until after baths late that evening. Perhaps my dream had to do with that. My family got hurt. I failed to keep my family safe.
I woke up crying because of the awful images in that early morning nightmare. All morning I have been touching my family, rubbing a back, smoothing hair, kissing sleep-warmed cheeks, reassuring myself of their solidity. As I finish typing, the smallest arms in our house are cradling my neck from behind, their owner raining my ears with kisses, in her effort to draw me away from the computer. Who could resist this reality? I will wrap up.
A dream is just a dream. Today, even as the forecast calls for thundershowers, we are all slathered in sunscreen. Just to be safe.