Powers Over Nightmares

Posted by Notes from Parenting U on May 19, 2011 

THUMP. THUMP.THUMP. The sound of anxious little feet pulled me out of a dream last night. I opened my eyes to see a scared six-year old with a pillow tucked under his arm ready to crawl into bed with me.

“Let’s go back to your bed,” I whispered, as I got up and turned him in that direction. “I promise to stay with you all night.”

We crawled into his bed. He snuggled as close as he could. I put my arm around him, kissed him on the head, and whispered, “It’s all right. I’m right here.” I have learned that he does not like to talk about nightmares. In a few minutes I could feel him relax and fall back to sleep.

My husband thinks I am silly to stay. Sleeping with a wiggly 6-year old in a single bed is not very restful. I am sure there are tons of parenting experts who would frown. But here is what I know.  My supermom power to vanquish nightmares is limited and waning. It won’t be long before he sleeps right through his nightmares. Then I will just hear about them over breakfast with embellishments designed to make me groan and him laugh. Sometime after that, he will move into the world of teen nightmares: acne, social worries, and academic pressures. From what I can tell hugs from mom have less effect on the nightmares of teens.

I will use my powers while I can.

Here is another fact. My son isn’t the only one who sometimes lies awake at night frightened. This has been a week of adult nightmares for me. Some of them were nightmares I just read about in the paper: wars, flooding, and a school bus full of children flipping down a ravine. One I experienced: hugging a friend at the hospital while her husband was dying.

My son has powers also. He cannot vanquish my nightmares, but his hugs and presence do apply a balm to this sad and worried heart. His hugs make it easier to remember that there is a lot of joy in the world also. Sometimes we all need help with nightmares, and I am grateful his power to comfort will not wane.

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