Thursday, March 29, 2018

The "No-Brakes" Dream

Have you ever dreamed that you’re driving a car and the brakes go out? Usually you wake up right before the crash. It’s a common anxiety dream signaling that you may be feeling like life is moving too fast or out of control. This little gem has visited me many times over the past few years through family and business changes. Even though I’ve felt calm on the surface, my subconscious was telling me otherwise. So it was no surprise that a couple nights after bringing our fourth baby home from the hospital I found myself dream riding in a vehicle with no brakes.

Only this time the dream was different.

It wasn’t me who was driving, but Nate. And I didn’t feel panic, but peace. I rode shotgun in his truck down a snow covered country lane. As we rounded the curves of the road, the truck’s brakes gave out. We braced ourselves as the truck sped down a hill with a sharp right turn at the base. Surely we were headed straight into the woods. But somehow the snow tracks guided the truck around the curve and we continued on.

My left hand grasped Nate’s hand and my right hand clutched my fresh c-section incision. If we crashed, the force of the seatbelt could split me right open. The road continued downhill; there was no slowing the truck. “Should I call someone? Your dad? An ambulance?”

“Hold off. I just need to find a soft place to land,” Nate said.

Somehow we navigated around a few more corners before the woods opened up into farm fields and the steep ditches gave way to gentle snow banks. With a nod, Nate steered the truck off the road and into a snow bank. (Remember, this was a dream, and for some reason this was the only way to stop the truck.)

In slow motion, a puff of snow burst into the air as the truck’s nose dove into the ditch and the back end swung into the air, easing us upside-down.

We hung from our seatbelts from the overturned cab. Nate was knocked out. I was unscathed. Still moving at half speed, I unbuckled myself, opened the door, and headed towards the road. I flagged down an elderly couple who agreed to give us a ride home.

The couple waited by the road while I went back for Nate. When I got back to the truck, he had already gotten himself out of the vehicle. “I think I broke something,” he said, rubbing his shoulder. “Are you hurt?”

“Not a scratch,” I said.

I put an arm around his waist and helped him hobble to the road.

Suddenly an alarm broadcasted through the sky and woke me. A crying newborn.

Like I said, it doesn’t surprise me that I should have the no-brakes dream after the past month. We spent the first weekend of the month nursing sick kids back to health, followed by an icy drive to the ER where Otto was diagnosed with pneumonia. Five hours later we headed back to the hospital for a c-section. I spent the next several days at the hospital bonding with August while cut off from the other kids who were banned from visiting due to the hospital’s flu season policy. When we finally got home, the older kids were needy, overtired, possibly still sickly, maybe a little bit spoiled, and overall just awful. It was a rough couple days.

Naturally, I felt a little out of control.

And yet, like in the dream, on top of all the panic, I felt peace. Maybe it’s because after four kids I finally realize that this too shall pass. Maybe it’s the distinct probability that this could be our last new baby so I should savor these moments. Maybe it’s because with four kids four and under, I find myself leaning more on Nate. Or maybe the pain killers were just working really well… ;) 

I’d like to think that after about four years of being reconverted to the faith, I’m finally practicing genuine trust. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

We’re not in control on this road that we call life. Some corners will be navigated smoothly. After the initial few days of adjustment, I'm happy to report that the kids are loving their new little brother, and I'm truly enjoying maternity leave.
Inevitably, though, crashes will come. I might think I have everything under control, but then all at once the oven's timer goes off while I'm trying to break up a fight between the two older ones. Meanwhile, the toddler poops his pants, and the baby wakes up from his nap. I'm bound to lose my sh*t at some point, but I’m asking myself: can I possibly hold onto this underlying peace through it all? Only time will tell!

And now, a few photos of our newest addition, August Oliver (isn't he precious!?):


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