Parents, all parents, to me- and forgive me for I am about to get hyperbolic- are dripping with mystery. We tend to focus on the obvious, how parents’ lives are changed forever by the arrival of children, but children’s lives are forever changed too, by parents! And yet, as is often the case, the process of creating children may not have been such a defining nor memorable moment to the parents at all. It’s almost as if the laws of life require an immense creation such as that of life to be executed nonchalantly, and if for a second hesitation enters, the nonchalant act turns into years of agony, suffering and yearning. And yet still, here we have a planet perfectly hosting both in a harmonious way.
Where am I going with this?
I am going to try to explain this all with a dream I had last year.
The most haunting dreams I have are when I dream of myself in third person. The second haunting dreams are the ones when I dream a strong memory of an event that never happened. The third most haunting dreams are the ones where the self I dream is a much younger one.
So imagine that scenario. A grown-up me dreaming a scene that baby me was in. And when that happens the grown-up Stephanie does not dream into the POV of the infant, no. The view is usually a scene I lived in which I myself may or may have not retained as a memory. I might have been the wall for all I know, or maybe (to make it more poetic) the air that baby me was breathing at the time.
I could definitely recognise the room we were in (I’ll tell you who was accompanying me in a bit). It was my paternal grandparents’ kitchen. And it had the exact same atmosphere and setting as the non-dream time we went over to celebrate my grandfather’s birthday one April at the beginning of the millennium. I remember having picked my own outfit to wear, as was already a habit of mine. I dressed in moss green from head to toe in order to match my new moss green hairband. We brought my grandfather his cake. He must have been around 72 years old at the time. I remember finding it strange that my mother brought a film camera and took some shots, as my parents’ enthusiasm for film photography was short lived and colonised by seven pregnancies in seven years. When the photos were later developed, I noticed that the whole photograph including our skin and kitchen had a green tinge, as if my fashionable choices that day had had an entropic effect on the room.
The room in my dream was as green as it was that day, so much so that I even remembered the photo in my dreamlike state. I looked around for the eight year old girl. There was in her stead a chubby infant on its belly, separated from the cold floor by a rug. It was me! As I relished in my certitude I realised that my perspective was completely empathetic to the baby’s, as the metal table and chairs that have graced my grandparents’ kitchen since the dawn of time towered over me as well as over the baby. I was cooing over my infant self, not out of narcissism but from complete tenderness. It was either due to my completely self-absorbed state or the rogue narrative prone to a dream event, as I did not immediately notice my parents at the age when I was born, under the table and chairs and giggling uncontrollably in a most delightful way. I ached to know what their joke was about, but only after so long did I realise that I could never know what they were laughing together about, as I was too young to perceive! In astonishment, I watched my infant self roll on the ground and gurgle, completely oblivious to my parent’s youthful exchange, as a great ache rose within my adult state at realising that I missed out on so many jokes and shared anecdotes my parents had shared right in my presence, and even more way before my existence!
As a child, I was never disturbed by the fact that I was created because my parents had made love, but now, sunken in my twenties, I came to a new existential horror, of having been born to people who may have shared a joke or two in my presence at a time when I could not assimilate the joke well.