Our fourth of July holiday was very low-key, and we spent it all at home in the air conditioning switching between episodes of Dora and Mommy’s News, where Mommy’s news equals anything that does not feature a protagonist who screams every word or hangs out all day with a monkey. Sometimes I wonder if it’s unhealthy for Leta to be so obsessed with one thing, and I’m sure it is in many, many ways, but then I remember how obsessed I can get over one thing, the years I spent cutting the fingers out of pairs of gloves so that my outfit would mirror Madonna’s more convincingly, or that one year I saw Radiohead seven times, or those nine months that I ate nothing but Doritos. And then I realize that my daughter is odd because her mother is odd.
I didn’t want to vacation anywhere for the holiday because as any parent will tell you, you don’t vacation when you have kids, you suffer. And I wasn’t in the mood for any more suffering, especially when it always takes longer to bounce back from the suffering than the suffering itself, and these next few weeks are sort of jammed with work that I have to get done. Work that has, of course, been put off and put off until the worrying that I do over what I am putting off is more powerful than the sleeping that I do to avoid the worrying, and the act of keeping my head from exploding is an aerobic exercise.
The worry reached such a fevered pitch this weekend that last night I had a panic attack in a dream that was so real I could feel the oxygen being cut off to my brain, and that feeling woke me up. It was one of those college dreams where I show up to take a test and realize I don’t know anything, and I can’t read my notes or anyone else’s notes because they’re written in a language I can’t read, and the teacher knows that I don’t know anything and keeps asking me questions I can’t answer in front of the class. Each question made me more anxious until I couldn’t breathe, and then I suddenly woke up and started sobbing uncontrollably. Makes sense since I was in college as recently as TEN YEARS AGO.
In the last five years these college nightmares have systematically replaced the showing-up-to-school-naked nightmares, and now when I dream that I’m walking around in public naked it’s not even a big deal. Maybe because there were 10? 15? 30? people in the room when I gave birth, and all of them were looking directly at my crotch when the placenta dropped out of it? And then for the next six months I whipped out my temporarily enormous breasts to feed a baby, sometimes squeezing or kneading the nipples to coax out the milk? Is nudity still a big deal to people? Because the only reason I put on a shirt to go outside and get the newspaper is because otherwise Jon is afraid our Mormon neighbors would choke on their morning Diet Coke.
No, all my nightmares are now about college, all about not knowing the answers to a test, or not knowing that I’ve been enrolled in a class the entire semester until the week of finals, or waking up late and missing the final entirely. It’s never about sharks or getting hit by a bus or having the house crushed by a dragon, at least not anymore. Although! I just remembered one I had last month about finding a secret baptismal font underneath the staircase in our house, because our house used to be a Mormon Church, and we filled it up and used it as an indoor swimming pool. Not so much a nightmare except that I felt totally guilty THE WHOLE DREAM.