We all have nightmares. None of us is unique in that respect. And I think we’ve all had a few that have always haunted us. I have at least a handful of nightmares that have so thoroughly terrified me that I’ve never forgotten them. Like the nanny legs from the Muppet Babies trying to kill me, which sounds silly but, seriously, if I brought this to life in a horror movie you would lose your shit.
There was also the series of apocalyptic nightmares that I had in the months following 9/11 and leading up to the baby’s birth, obviously spurred by that harsh realization of the kind of world that I was bringing a child into.
There was the weird, crucifixion-type dream that I had when I was pretty young, in which I was executed along with two other people for the vague crime of being bad. I woke up screaming, desperate for forgiveness.
And there was, of course, that weird alien one from a few years ago.
But I think the scariest nightmares are the ones that don’t scare us at all.
I had one last night in which I was abusing the baby consistently over a long period of time. Hitting, screaming, abandoning. It was terrible. Thinking about it today I’m thankful to be fuzzy on the details since what I do remember makes me feel sick.
I haven’t talked about it much here, but I’m coming out of a pretty dark period in life from, I think, a lot of insecurity about mistakes that I think I’ve made. I’m doing so, so much better now. Like 180 degrees better, but I know that turning over the rough stuff about what the baby must have thought of me when things were getting bad has been on the back burner.
I don’t beat myself up for having days when I’m just not being the mom that I wish I could be. It’s not always up to me. Sometimes the baby is in a cranky mood and I’m exhausted and we end up bickering. But what I did in my nightmare was make sure that he knew that I did not love him, which has never been the case no matter how inescapable my darkness may have seemed at times. I think it didn’t scare me because no matter how improbable those other nightmares have been, this one was the one that was utterly impossible.
Much to his increasing embarrassment, I will often grab him and smother him with kisses and hugs and “I love you”s. Something inside makes me do this, I think because I fear that he’ll have dark days like the ones I’ve had. If one of my jobs as a parent is to teach him survival skills, then I’m going to always be braiding a lifeline for him that he’ll be able to find even in the murkiest of waters.