Bad dream.

He woke up sobbing just a few hours after he went to bed. I was still up in the living room. I went to his door to listen, unsure if he was still asleep and I was just hearing the soft cries of a bad dream that would pass in a minute or two, or if he was really awake and upset.

“Mama! Maah-maaaah!” 

Definitely awake.

I went in and found him, head buried in his pillow. He looked up at me and the light from the hall made his teary-wet cheeks twinkle.  

“It’s gone, mama. Gone.” 

What’s gone, baby?

“My imagination.”

Oh no, what happened?

“It’s gone. They took it. And now [sniffle, sniffle] I can’t think of anything.”

  

Imagination is Everything.

Sometimes I’m in the shower and I imagine myself below a waterfall in Bali.  Not that I’ve ever been to Bali, or even stood blissfully below a waterfall before.  And not that I even get the chance to shower every day.

Sometimes I sit in a coffee shop working and fantasize that I have nothing to do because I am being funded by the Kardashian-Jenner clan.  They have me on retainer to edit the sequel to Kendall and Kylie Jenner’s dystopian fiction debut…a sequel that will never come.

Sometimes I consider what a trip to the Aquarium would be like if I actually had the time to sit and watch the beluga whales swim–to get lost staring into surreal, and decidedly unreal, blue pools.  Or had the time to watch my oldest daughter watch the whales swim without having to run after the other two who are concurrently negotiating for the purchase of a sea star (f/k/a starfish) to take home and trying to find his way in to the penguin exhibit.

Sometimes I imagine that I don’t have a job at all, other than being a parent.  I imagine that I’m better at parenting because I have more time, more energy, and more yoga pants than pencil skirts.  You can’t run very fast in a pencil skirt.

Sometimes I read the Sunday Times travel section on a Wednesday night and picture my husband and I on a Danube river cruise.  There are no laptops or children in the picture (either the one in my head, or the one in the Times).

Sometimes when my almost-5-year-old links her arms around my neck, preventing me from leaving her bedside after a late night kiss, it feels like an anchor.  Holding me fast to a lifetime of responsibility, or at a minimum, 10 more minutes of bedside conversation about Halloween costumes and the necessity of having the full Ninja weapon kit rather than a single sword. 10 minutes I don’t have because there are still hours of work to be done after the last kiss.

More often though, her arms–their arms–feel like life preservers.  They circle me, hold me up, and make me feel warm and powerful.  Impervious to rough seas.

I can’t imagine life without them.

My oldest imagining a life under water.

My oldest imagining a life under water.