I’m sitting in my boy’s room in low light, breastfeeding him to sleep with Richard Hawley’s honey voice transporting us both into a past full of memories and into a future of sweet dreams. Suddenly, Maple snatches her hand out of mine, and dashes away from me across the road. I’m screaming for her to stop but she doesn’t listen and she carries on as a four wheel drive throttles down our quiet street and sends her tiny body flying through the air. I can do nothing. Everything is too late. Her tiny body lies there, wiped out and obliterated in the middle of the road and my screams make my throat and soul bleed. I couldn’t help her. I am helpless. I have lost her. I hear it all. I feel the intensity of it. Tears stream down my face. I sob. Zephy snuffles like a wee piggy on my boob and I come to in the delicious golden light of his room and I breathe relief in through every pore. I want to run to Maple’s room to be sure she is ok. I settle back to feeding.
You don’t want to read this right? I understand. It’s too much. It is far too much. I don’t want to swim in these foul waters either. I’ve read it back and I too think “this is too much. Nobody wants to go there.” I’m hoping that the mere act of writing it all down might exorcise these hideous daymares from my mind.
We’re in the park. I’m playing with both children. Zeph can walk and he’s toddling about, following his sister. A man walks past with a dog and lets it off the lead. Maple goes to pat it and I don’t have time to get between her and the dog. It goes for her. It has her by the throat. I see the fear in her eyes. I see it all. It’s shaking her. Her body is limp. I can’t get to her. I can’t get the dog off. The man isn’t helping. I’m kicking, I’m screaming, I’m tearing at the dog. I can’t save my child. I can’t save my child. It’s too much. I shudder. The safety of my boy’s room. He sighs into deep contentment on my boob. God he’s gorgeous. I relax into half sleep. We’re on a ship. There’s a problem. We’re rushed onto lifeboats. I lose sight of my children. The waves are high. I’m reunited with them but the boat is not doing well. We’re holding on for dear life. I’m holding my little ones so close but I’m losing grip as the boat comes close to capsizing with every wave that hits. I feel every surge. I tangibly experience the familiar, sickening, paralysing feeling of vertigo as we teeter on the top of gigantic waves. The boat turns. I can’t hold on to both children. I have to choose. I have to choose. I have no time. I need to grab one or I lose both. Gasp for air. I shake my head and wipe away tears. Jesus christ.
Why does the mind do this? How can I let myself go into such torrid, vivid detail? It’s phuquing exhausting and desperately stressful. I’m not alone. My partner does this too. He has horrendous daymares about the worst possible things that might happen to our children. Sometimes we share with one another where we have been in these ghastly scenarios, but these days we tend to spare one another. The impact of the daymares is sometimes just too awful to warrant offloading. I know that Oz goes to the same places. We both started daymaring the moment Maple was born and now that Zephyr is with us too, they have intensified. I sometimes think I’m losing my marbles. Oz thinks we allow our minds to go on these god awful walks in order to ensure that we never let these situations eventuate; to ensure that we are always on our guard and always on high alert when looking out for our kids. Personally, I could do without them. But I find myself doing it all the time. And it’s not like sleep has taken over and I am at the whim of my dreams. This is me, in reality, creating some bloody dreadful scenes where my children suffer the worst possible fates and I am disempowered, impotent; I cannot save my children.
I’m guessing that other parents do this. I remember my mum telling me when I was a kid that she had a recurring nightmare. We were on a ferry. The ferry had taken off and when mum looked back at the shore, my baby brother was on the pier and we had left him behind but there was no way of going back for him. Perhaps this was also a daymare for her rather than a nightmare. Perhaps she also played out this dreadful fantasy so that she would always be pretty damn sure she didn’t leave him anywhere. Actually, her day/nightmare has a trigger rooted in experience. When we were babies (I was three and my brother was eighteen months I think, or perhaps we were younger), mum took us down to the beach. We had eaten an icecream and she had washed our faces in the sea. Mum was holding baby Sam in her arms down by the sea, when a wave came in and washed him out of her arms. No daymare. No nightmare. This was the real deal. He was gone. Gone. She said that she went into total shock. She couldn’t find him. Can you imagine? This is the sort of shit I let my mind play at. Mum lived it. I don’t know how long this went on for. I checked with mum just now, and she says, “I don’t know darling. It felt like two hours, but it couldn’t have been.” But I know that a man came up to her with a bundle of sand in his arms and said “I think this might be yours.” And it was my wee brother. I have always known this story. I have grown up knowing it and always felt deeply how horrendous this must have been for mum. But the momentousness of it only truly hit me when I became a mum myself. So perhaps her ferry day/nightmare was a direct response to this nasty experience.
Anyhoo, praps I need to relax a little. Chill out. Keep an eye on these wee buggas at all times, be vigilant and never trust that they know what’s best for themselves. In the safety of my own home, I’d like to take my mind on some rewarding fantasies. I have golden, warm sand between my toes, dried salt on my arms and I feel the skin on my face stretch as I laugh and sing. I twirl round and around, holding Maple’s hands, spinning her in a kaleidoscope of colour as she giggles and we grow dizzy with love. Oz sits and builds castles in the sand with Zeph and their laughter fills my ears and I feel that the world is a smile. Ah, now that’s nice.