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.”
The dream’s message is significant. Try to do at least one thing for yourself everyday to be refreshed to care for everyone else. It could be as little as meditating in a quiet room for 5 minutes to splurging on a one hour walk in your neighborhood. The most important guilty pleasure is being your own best friend. Love, Brooks’ Aunt Rita
I hear you–good advice. Congrats on Isabella Rose–she looks beautiful!
Thanks, going to meet Bella next week! Remember back in 1977 when I had a 2 1/2 year old and a sick preemie? And I was getting divorced! My Mom watched the little ones for an hour or so on a regular basis so that I could keep my head on straight. You need someone dear to do that for you. Love, Brooks’ Aunt Rita
That was beautiful, Marn. I love your dream. I’m actually going on a kind of retreat weekend – Just Saturday and Sunday, no sleepover (Nov. 3 & 4) — for meditation with Pamela – you know, I’ve mentioned her. Anyway, she’s going to cover a lot of stuff, including dreams – I already took one dream class with her – she’s created her own eight-step system for interpreting dreams (after years of training in meditation, dreams, etc. – she’s taken what works for her). But she always says the most important thing is to trust your instincts – that’s one of the things I like about her.
So trust your insincts – do what makes you happy. But I’ll talk about your dream at the retreat – I’m interested in hearing Pamela’s take on it (Anyway, it’s more interesting than the dreams I’ve been having lately – and so colourful – I know colours are symbols for other things in dreams, just like numbers, dates, etc.).
Also been meaning to call you about Caitlin’s trip. Can you send me the itinerary? Tks.
I just thought of something, about the dream. Toes aren’t an essential body part – you could probably learn to walk without toes. It’s not like losing your sight or your hearing, or even your legs or arms – Yes, I’m going somewhere with this. The way you talk about it in your dream, it almost seems like an inconvenience. And you don’t seem overly upset.
So maybe the dream is telling you that loving and helping Brooks are what makes you happiest right now – and you don’t care too much about what else you may be missing out on. They’re just inconveniences – they don’t mean that much to you. As long as the tree is happy.
Also, if you had the time, in your dream, to paint your toenails (not to mention buying 10 different shades of nail polish), maybe you aren’t ignoring your own needs. You may just need different things right now.
Having said that.. I do recommend date night – I think it’s important for a relationship to have time together as a couple, not just as mom and dad. Also a good idea – meditation, yoga, whatever you can do to slow down your mind and rid yourself of all thoughts. I know it helps me – when I have the discipline to actually do it consistently! And I like meditating to music – I have some really good meditation CDs.
I’ve kept you long enough. Talk to you soon!
Maybe I should move back to New York so you can have your date nights again. Or, you can visit me here and you and Peter can take off. It really is important to make time for yourselves. Miss you and love you.
First let me say that I just started following your blog and it is helpful to share in your experiences as I am a first time parent to a wonderful 3 year old on the spectrum. I can relate all too well about shelving wants and needs for myself and my partner yet finding extreme joy in the small victories our son achieves daily. You must take care of yourself so you can take care of him (isn;t that what all the parenting books say). I think one thing my family will soon try is alternating weeks where for 2-3 hours mom or dad trade off in doing something on his/her own.
You hit the perverbial nail on the head. That is exactly how I feel….thank you for sharing this…always reassuring to know ur not alone ❤