Lately I’ve been having bad dreams about my daughter Addison. What is it that’s terrifying me, and is there anything I can do about it?
Bad Dreams About My Daughter
I’ve been having some bad dreams about Addie lately.
The first of them found us at someone’s house. I think there was some kind of a party going on. Addie went to play out back in the fenced-in yard, and I remained inside to chat. I don’t recall if Emily was there or not.
At some point an acquaintence of mine arrived at the party and needed help figuring out where to park his car. But when I came outside to help him, suddenly we were all in the middle of an amusement park. At first I didn’t think much of it, but when we started to take the car to the lot – which was completely on the other side of the park – I panicked.
Where was Addie?!
I immediately stopped the car (why was I driving?) and ran back to the “house” as quickly as I could. I was freaking out because I’d left her all by herself. What if something happened to her or she got lost? What if someone took her?!
I found her entertaining herself at a fountain by the “house”, which had turned into a guest services desk by this point. Though I was incredibly relieved and all had been resolved, I jumped awake and had a hard time getting back to sleep.
The most recent dream started in a similar fashion. We were at a house where friends of ours were staying. They might have been partying but I don’t really know.
Addie wasn’t originally at the party with me, but at some point I went to the back of the house and into a room where she – at just under 2 years old – was taking a nap on a large bed. Satisfied that she was safe and okay, I went back out to the main room to join my friends.
But when I got there, I was suddenly inside a strange, indoor water park.
And I could swear I saw Addie’s head bobbing up and down in the distance, in water too deep for her to be bobbing in.
Then she disappeared.
Frantic, I started swimming out to her, screaming her name. But I couldn’t see her. Where did she go? Was she okay?!
She appeared far off in the distance, out of the water and in some kind of a tunnel. Closer to her current age of over three.
I went after her, struggling to get through the water.
But I woke up, out of breath, before I could track her down.
Why Am I Having These Bad Dreams?
Bad dreams about your children are nothing new for parents. And it’s not like I’ve never had dreams like these before.
But I’ve never had them so intense or close together. So why is this the case now?
Like any human being with a child, I fear whether or not I will be, or have been, a good parent. I know I’ll make mistakes sometimes, or make the wrong decision about something. I accept that. But how big might a mistake be? What damage might the wrong decision cause? What happens if I scar my daughter for life?
What if I do something that makes her not trust me?
Furthermore, I’m so busy with work and projects… what if I’m not there enough? What if I lose time that I can’t get back as she grows up?
In truth, these are all fairly typical things that cause parents to have bad dreams. I’ve had bad dreams stemming from these fears before.
These latest ones, however, are something different.
And I think they stem from the fact that baby number two is on the way this Thanksgiving!
For the last three-plus years, Addie has been my world. When the next child comes, how does he or she become an equal part of that same world? If it’s a girl, what happens to my little “princess”? Can I have two? Or does Addie, in a sense, become old news?
There are two things stemming from all of this that I fear most:
- When the new baby comes, it will have most of our attention. Beyond simply cherishing our new bundle of joy, it will be required. Will I then not pay enough attention to Addie? Will I lax in my parental duties to her? Will something bad happen to her as a result? And how much time will I miss with her because of it?
- Addie will surely notice that we are giving the new baby a large portion of our time. How will she feel when she’s no longer the center of attention that she used to be? Will she be devastated when she finds she has to share it?
I’m convinced that these two fears are where my bad dreams are coming from.
What Can I Do About These Bad Dreams?
As a child I had roughly the same experience that Addie is about to have. I was almost three when my brother was born. And while I don’t recall all of the details, I definitely did not grow up feeling less loved, or that there was a finite amount of love that could be divvied out.
I don’t feel as though I received an inadequate amount of attention either.
So it can be done. I’m living proof of that.
And although these dreams are terrifying, and I know I’m sure to have more, they also serve as reminders of what Addie’s feelings mean to me. I don’t want her to feel less loved, or that she doesn’t matter as much. I want her to know that nothing will change the fact that she’s my little princess.
These bad dreams also remind me that I want to be a good parent. If that wasn’t important to me, I likely wouldn’t be having these dreams at all.
It is for the above reasons that I’m thankful for these dreams. No, I don’t particularly like them, or how they make me feel. But I’m having them because being a good father is one of the top-most things on my conscience. I feel terrible after having them because slacking in my parental duties is not acceptable to me.
No matter how many children I have.
Rather than fear these dreams – rather than detest them – I will continue to appreciate them.
Because they remind me of who I want to be.