A Gathering Voices post by Lynne M. Baab
I dreamed about my kids last night. In real life, my two sons are two years apart in age (and full grown adults; you can see them as kids in the photo). In the dream, one of them was about 5 and the other was a baby in arms. It was wonderful to be with them again, to hold my younger son as a baby and to chat with my older son. In the dream, the baby needed his diaper changed, and I was trying to figure out where I’d left the diaper bag. We were walking at night, searching for a house where we were staying, and I was preoccupied with trying to locate the right street. As I looked at street signs, someone came up from behind and stole my older son, and I woke up, my heart pounding.
My first thought after waking focused on how strange it was that the boys’ ages were four or five years apart in the dream rather than two years. My second thought was how weird the human brain is. I had experienced such a mix of emotions in the dream – pleasure at being with my sons as children again, frustration that I couldn’t find the diaper bag or the right street, and downright terror at the end when my older son was stolen – and I wake up thinking about the fact that the age gap between the boys in the dream wasn’t right?
As the day wore on, I found myself pondering how weird dreams are. I had that flash of joy being with my kids again as kids, but it was so brief. Why, in the dream, did I worry so much about the diaper bag and the street signs? Why couldn’t I just soak up those precious moments with my kids?
Later in the day, I had to do a radio spot about current events. Once every two weeks, I do a three-minute interview on the Christian radio station in New Zealand, Radio Rhema. I, or the interviewer, pick a news item to talk about. I found an article about some research about New Zealand mothers which showed a significant sense of isolation and guilt among many mothers. In the brief conversation on air, the interviewer mentioned his observation that many mothers feel like failures because they aren’t staying home with their kids.
I talked about the fact that I did stay home with my kids, but I felt guilty about other things. It seems to me that motherhood, like so many other things, is an area where we think there are easy, black-and-white answers. Instead, there are many models for families, many ways of doing things. I mentioned 1 Corinthians 11, which affirms multiple ways of serving and acting, all connected to the one God. I wonder if 1 Corinthians 11 might be a passage that could help mothers not feel so guilty.
After the radio spot, I realized that maybe my dream wasn't so weird. In many ways it exactly mirrors my experience as a mother of young children. I was so preoccupied with my guilt about not doing a good job, and my mind always seemed filled with various pressing concerns (like the diaper bag and the street directions in the dream), so I had a hard time simply enjoying my children. I can’t get those years back, but I could definitely do a better job enjoying the various components of my life today.