Don’t Be Your Own Hail

A few nights ago I had a dream that’s been loitering in my mind and won’t go away–that’s how all my blogs start as words that keep repeating in my brain so here you go.

There was a time when I was pretty into dream interpretation, but these days I rarely remember my dreams so I hadn’t given it much thought in a while. This message was so vivid and perplexing that I went web surfing for answers. On the surface it would seem pretty obvious that “hail” is a symbol of doom–and that’s what all the dream interpretation sites confirm (that and failed ambitions, crushed dreams, and all that good stuff.) But living in a climate where any type of precipitation is celebrated and having lots of happy memories of kids catching Texas snowballs, hail is not so threatening to me. Perhaps just a gentle kindness offered by my dream brain–getting the idea across without terrifying me with a more horrific message.

The dream continued. I took my kids for a ride in an open vehicle–either a go cart or jeep. We were speeding downhill when I lost control and we went over a cliff. As we fell the kids were thrown far to one side of the vehicle and I far to the other. I watched them plunge into the water below and it was really important to me that I saw where they had gone in. This somehow made the whole disaster less ominous. As I hit the water I was sucked away from the kids by the vacuum  of the sinking vehicle.

Big Sister was terrified and screaming for me to help Little Guy who cannot swim  (in real life or the dream) and was flailing and shrieking “Mommy!” I screamed back for her to hold onto him. I knew if she could just keep hold of him, even if she could not keep him above water,  I would be able to get him to shore and resuscitate him.

As I overpowered the force pulling me down and swam toward my son, I looked for my younger daughter and found her not far from the other two kids grinning and splashing around playfully wearing an infant life preserver while holding onto a kick-board. Even in my dream this vision was painful. The rest of us were were fighting for our lives and she was safe at a pool party. I demanded to know where she got the kick- board, she replied “I don’t know” as she does to all requests for information. I turned my attention back to the other two kids and got them safely back to shore with Little Sister kicking her way happily behind us.

So dense with symbolism (as dreams always are) that I don’t know where to begin. A vehicle symbolizes your self. The fact that this vehicle was open was significant. I’ve been striving to be more open in my life. While my Facebook reads like a never-ending Disney vacation (and so much of my life is so very good) I am seeing more and more value in sharing my struggles and imperfections, as well. While that’s all cool,  it’s not so great that my self is cliff diving with my kids in tow and sinking to the bottom of the lake. Or maybe that was just letting go of the old self. The jeep sank, but I never went down–I was stronger.

Then there’s Little Sister protected in an inflatable shell, kicking and holding on to the past, happily oblivious to the crisis around her–but coming along.  Big sister more concerned for the welfare of others than her own. Little Guy screaming out for my help.  Pretty sure no interpretation is needed. And water itself is a biggie carrying themes of life, renewal, transitions, and a change in psychic state. Yeah, I got all that going on.

But here’s the message I want to hold onto. It was absolutely certain to me in the midst of the crisis was that I was going to save my kids. No doubt about it. I was stronger than any of the forces working against me and I was going to get them out of the water alive.

My waking self is not always so sure.

We’re in a good place right now, but doubts and fears are always lingering in the shadows. Experience tells us that good can go bad with no warning and it’s not easy to let your guard down.

Tentatively, we celebrate that we’ve survived the first few weeks of school with surprising successes.

Little Guy is thriving. I mean really truly thriving. He has not thrown a single punch. Only one bad behavior report in 21 days (and it wasn’t all that bad), and he loves school. He gets in the car aglow at pick-up and bubbles about his day all the way home. More and more I’m struck by how completely normal things have become for him much of the time. His transformation has been nothing short of amazing.

Little Sister is doing better at home. School has given her an outlet for he maladaptive behaviors and she’s happy to leave them there at the end of the day most of the time. Clearly not my most generous thoughts, but I’m glad to have someone share the load for awhile. I knew the behaviors would eventually emerge–I just thought it would take longer. Seems a seating relocation to right beside the teacher was in order within the first week, she has almost daily reports of disruptive behavior or refusal to do her work and she’s managed to convince the team that her abilities are far less than they actually are.

This was exactly what I feared while I wrestled with the decision of whether to put her back in public school, but for now, been a  blessing in disguise. The daily break has been good for us both. Not dealing with constant redirection and behavior management has revived my ability to pour in loving acts and seemingly her ability to accept them. For the first time ever, last week, I felt the spontaneous urge to hug her and she returned my embrace. I’ve been hugging all along, but it was scheduled because she needed it (no matter how much she resisted) not because I wanted to give it. However hard that is to hear–it is a cold hard fact of parenting a child with attachment disorder.  However fleeting, it was pure joy to at last feel a second of connection.

I’ve had more warm moments with her in the past few weeks than I have in the past year. And, hold onto your butt, last week she told me “You’re the best mom I’ve ever had.” (Damn straight I am.) Coming from a child with a basis for comparison and who for the past year has held and regularly voiced a very different opinion this is all the more meaningful.

So despite the themes of doom, my dream and waking lives are ultimately stories of survival. We are moving forward, evolving, and growing. We are fighting the good fight and winning (today, at least).