I had a dream the other night that I was talking to a teacher on the phone about Brooks when I noticed some of my toes had fallen off. There was nothing bloody about the dismemberment—it was a very clean affair, sort of like a shedding, and a colorful one at that, since I had recently painted each of my toes a different color (my dream toes—not my real ones).
I remember thinking in my dream that if it had only been my left foot with the missing toe, I would have continued the conversation: I never have enough time for these kinds of calls and prefer not to cut them short. But when I looked down at my right foot and saw a gaping space where three of my small toes used to be, I had the piece of mind to gather up all the missing multi-color digits before they rolled away and I headed over to the emergency room.
Although my hospital visit began with a podiatry focus, it quickly segued into a conversation about psycho-educational testing for Brooks. The rest of the dream was foggy, but it was clearly headed in a “toes are overrated” direction.
No need to bring in a dream expert on this one. Apparently, deep down in my self conscious, I’m neglecting myself. Part and parcel of being a parent–especially a special needs one. Perhaps, to heal what’s ailing me, all I need is a date night. Or a spa day (probably minus the pedicure).
The problem is: I’m not really ailing. Did I mention that there was no blood or gore or pain in the dream? There really wasn’t. Because helping my son is paramount: it is as pure and natural—and involuntary—as breathing. When Brooks really needs something, my husband and I provide it, no matter how much we neglect ourselves, each other, or the rest of the non-Brooks world. And here’s the kicker: it makes us happy.
I’d be lying if I said that I no longer want things for myself–of course I do. But if those plans have to wait a little longer, or even if they get permanently shelved, I can accept that. With a smile on my face. Not unlike Shel Silverstein’s Giving Tree who diminishes herself to a stump for the boy she loves and whose story ends: “And the tree was happy.”