“Mommy, I had a bad dream!” my little boy whined, climbing into my big bed and grabbing a pillow. I pulled him close to cuddle me and I asked him to tell me all about it. He hesitated at first. Then slowly, the story came out.
He had a bad dream about a burglar coming in and shooting us. “I don’t want to die without you, mommy!” he whined. I assured him that neither of us are going to die and he accepted that, rolling over and falling asleep. I was tempted to wake him and send him back to his own bed, but I changed my mind. I wanted to have him close to watch him sleep a while.
I’m so lucky that my son’s fears of death were likely spawned from inappropriate television choices and he is perfectly healthy. Not every parent can say the same. I remember being pregnant and saying, “I don’t mind if its a boy or a girl, as long as it’s healthy”. As long as it’s healthy cuts deeply… it echoes.
I think about babies not born healthy and as much as it would be preferable that they were, they still contribute and matter and are lives to be celebrated. I held my sleeping child and thought of my friend whose family just lost a little person and I feel so aware how fleeting parenthood can be.
Parenting is hard work. It’s tiring, messy and thankless. There’s stuff everywhere, stains and noisy prattle. That’s not what makes it hard. It’s having something so precious that it’s terrifying to imagine ever losing it. The fear of waking up one day without stuff everywhere, unstained and in silence. It is so vulnerable to love another person that much, to take on responsibility for raising a young life to adulthood and praying that fate will allow that to transpire uninterrupted. Parenting is hard because there’s finally something to lose.
One of the privileges I enjoy in my parenting is that every night is snuggle time.
There are no phones allowed, as focus on each other is important. Before he goes to bed, he likes to listen to the poetry of Shane Koyczan. He doesn’t understand the words, he just likes how they sound, the cadence lulling him softly to sleep. I nudge him awake and send him to his own bed. At first I am happy to have my big bed to myself, but if I’m really honest, I’m hoping he gets a bit lonely and climbs back in. I want to savour the time where he’s still young enough to think I can keep nightmares away.
This is a poem Shane wrote about a family who had something to lose. The language is strong, but it eloquently speaks to why I’m thankful my son fears only things that go bump in the night. In memory of little people who have left us too soon.