Revelations in the dark
By: Rebecca Murman
I lay in bed far too long before I finally fall asleep. That’s OK, I think, because I have a babysitter tomorrow. I think of all the wonderful things I could do with three hours. I could clean the house, or scrapbook the rest of the Maya’s birthdays (only one out of three is done so far). I could work on a logo that I need to finish for a freelance gig. My usual client is silent right now, so that’s a huge bonus. I could write more thank you cards. I could clean off my desk. I could go to the gym….
I drift off to sleep thinking happy thoughts about time to myself. I’m awoken rudely at 2:55 a.m. My daughter, Maya, has crawled into bed with us while we were asleep, and she’s had a nightmare. She sits straight up in bed. “I wanna go back to my room!” she wails. I quickly try to shush her because her slumbering dad has an interview tomorrow. I try to calm her down and cuddle her in the warm bed, but to no avail. When she has a nightmare, this is what happens: she wants to go back to her room, but refuses to let me go back to bed. I sit in a chair while she falls asleep; she keeps waking up because she’s scared. The minute I try to leave, she wails again. This goes on for a mind-numbingly long time.
And I’ve only had two, maybe two and a half, hours of sleep by this time.
Sighing, I take her back to her bed. I sit and look down at her, exhausted and impatient. “What was your dream about?” I ask, trying to grasp any shred of motherly patience I can find.
Her frightened eyes look back up at me. “It was a movie, but it was moving,” she says in a tiny voice. The innocence and fear in her face are equally palpable. As I gaze at her, something shifts in me. I recognize her – I was her when I was little. I didn’t yet know that dreams weren’t real. Hell, I’ve been haunted by a dream I had the other night, who am I to talk? My irritation dissipates as I lose myself in her beautiful, frightened face.
I stroke her head and love her. Just love her. I know what I can do tomorrow, I think. I can sleep.
Tell us: How do you calm your child after a nightmare?