I woke up crying this morning at 4 a.m. You know those awful, inescapable dreams that seem so real? I was watching a little four-year-old girl in a classroom get bullied for the way she spoke. Innocently, with a shy smile, she repeated the horrible things that the kids told her to say, but then she grew visibly more distraught as the kids continued to mock her. I couldn’t reach out to her or intervene. I was helplessly frozen, watching her eager desire for approval turn into misery. My own tears woke me up, but even once I was awake, it was hard to stop. A residual internal heaviness has stayed with me all day.
I wonder what prompted such a dream. Some days I feel very nervous about A. starting school in September, but that’s still far off and I don’t think about it much. Maybe it’s the book I just finished, 419, which is full of unsettling injustices and left me feeling very depressed. Perhaps it’s the conversations we’ve been having about looking into adopting a child. Regardless, I think that becoming a mother has made me more vulnerable, more emotional, more wary of the world — and that scares me because I don’t want to become that way.
At times I fear I’ve lost my indomitable sense of adventure. Where’s the girl who planned to drive a junker from Canada to Patagonia? How about that overland trip from Europe to China, following the old silk route? Or the camel caravan ride tracing the salt route through North Africa? I used to want to bungee-jump, go parachuting, learn how to scuba dive, paddle the Amazon, sail around the world, visit the land of Arabian Nights. Now all I can think of is my kids. I’m scared of potential consequences. I’m scared of undefined evils. I’m paranoid about accidents. I don’t want to do anything that might threaten my wellbeing for their sake, and vice versa. It must be innate, this fierce maternal sense of self-preservation. Of course it’s valuable, but it also worries me.
I’m scared of becoming too complacent in my little Canadian bubble. I love my life and enjoy its security, but I never want to become so comfortable that the outside world suddenly appears too scary for me to venture into. I draw comfort from knowing that when we went to Europe last September, I didn’t want to come home. I felt truly in my element. I’m a traveller at heart, a wanderer, and I would have been content to continue circling the globe indefinitely with my little family in tow. But comfort and ease are insidiously addictive. (Oh, and Jason had to go back to work.)
How a story about a weepy dream turned into a travel post, who knows, but I guess it comes down to my ongoing struggle to strike a healthy balance between allowing motherhood to influence me while not letting it redefine me completely. Can anyone else relate?