Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Up in the Night

I had nightmares frequently as a child--up until I was in high school. I would dream that I was being lined up against our neighbor's barn, just waiting to be shot by Pancho Villa. I dreamed this so often that I got to the point where I could control the dream when it got to this point: When he asked for my last request, I would ask to pinch myself so I would wake up.

I need a dream analyst for that one.

What makes some prone to horrible dreams and others not, I don't know, but I can't forget that feeling of lingering fear and panic upon waking. I slept in the bedroom directly below my parents, and I would make the long, dark trek to their bedroom, silently appearing next to my mom's head. She would turn, ask what was wrong. I'd tell her I'd had a bad dream, and she would say, "I'm sorry. It's just a dream. Go back to bed." Then I would make that same dark walk back to bed, somehow feeling better from just telling someone about it.
At 4:30 am, I awoke to the sound of the little boys' door quietly open.  Next thing I knew, Micah was standing by my bed.   

What's up, Bud?
I had a bad dream.
You okay?
I dreamed Eve died.

I felt my heart flip for a second, thinking how horrible that dream would be. I know some who live that nightmare daily, or face that possibility every waking minute.  I held my breath for a second, then I did what I always do when there's a bad dream at our house: I lifted the covers, invited his small body to cuddle next to mine, and I wrapped my arms around his frightened little self.  We stayed like that until his breathing slowed and I could feel his heart no longer racing.

You okay now?
I think so.
Wanna head back to bed? Or do you need to stay here a little longer?
I'm okay, Mom.  See you in the morning.

I know from years of mothering that this stage will soon be over--the nightmares, the trips to my bedside, and especially the tender few moments spent with a body the perfect size to fit in the curve between my head and my knees.

Right next to my heart, where he will always stay.


  1. such a beautiful story ... i completely relate, one of my favorite parts of mothering is the post-nightmare snuggle ;-)

  2. That's a cool picture I haven't seen before.

  3. you're killing me. This is so sweet. I had a similar moment last night with my almost 2yo--cuddling on the bed, knowing his body is growing faster than I'd like, but grateful all the same.


  4. I'm glad that you shared this. While I am not glad that your poor son had such a nightmare - I'm reassured as a parent that it's normal. My Gracie has a VIVID imagination and it seems that "bad dreams" are a nightly occurrence. While some of the sleepless nights are pretty rough to make it through, I'm grateful for your perspective to remind me of how this phase will be over before I know it and the need for mom won't be there as much.
    Again - thank you for sharing!

  5. P.S. - that last comment wasn't Jason - it was me! :o) (Diana)

  6. Poor kid. What an awful dream. Isn't it wonderful that he has a safe place to go and be comforted?

    And isn't it a privilege being that safe place for our little (and sometimes, even our big) ones?


  7. What a sweetly written post. I need to reconsider my response to Maggie and her bad dreams. I'm more like your Mom. Sorry it happened kid, now go back to bed. Which, for the record, she refuses to do, and that leads to battles. But, maybe I should just let her snuggle a minute.

  8. Cherish these cuddling moments. Before you know it, they are too big to neatly fit in your lap. Not that size should stop you, it doesn't stop me...but it still seems and looks awkward. :)

  9. Love that picture, so cute! How scary for Micah, and a sweet moment to cherish. You are just stirring up all my emotions lately, what is up?

  10. Hi friend. You're a great mom. I never do middle of the night well. I finally remembered my password. So I'm officially a "follower" not just a stalker anymore :)

  11. Riley has had similar chilling nightmares about Aubrey! They are alwasy so scary to hear about, let alone dream. but the snuggles are the best
    have a happy night jen

  12. Those are definately precious times that slip away too fast. So tender.

  13. Sweet. Katie was the one who had nightmares at our house. Even today she's a sleepwalker. Caught her one night trying to climb out her 2nd story window. Bad dreams can be very real sometimes! How sweet that Micah came in for a cuddle.

  14. I love that post.
    Nothing like having them for a snuggle moment.
    So tender.

  15. So sad. I love how you turned that afwful situation into a pleasant moment shared between you and your son.

  16. my stepmom always made me too scared to wake up she OR my dad. my mom always let me climb into bed with her. i still know i can call my mom at 3am if i have a bad dream and she will wake up and be fine with it. i always have brennan cuddle into bed and i hug him until he's back asleep. heals that child in me that was always too scared to go in and wake up my dad and stepmom.

  17. First, I have to say that that picture of them in the car is just so cute :) I'm so amused that they are riding in a mini car :)

    It must've been very scary for Micah to have such a dream. I'm glad that he was able to seek comfort with you after waking from his nightmare though. When I was young and had nightmares, my parents would send me back to my room and I would end up not sleeping for the rest of the night out of fear that I'll go back into that dream. With E, whenever she has a bad dream, I bring her to bed with me and just hold her until she fell asleep again. I just can't bring myself to tell her to go back to sleep alone the way my parents did to me.