Lately, I seem to be having a lot of strange dreams. They are vague when I wake up, but the fact that I remember them at all is significant. Until I read that everyone dreams, I would have sworn to you that I didn't.
Among the most distinguishing parts of a dream I had over the weekend was that I was carrying a baby around and that she fell asleep in my arms. Lots of other things - most of them bizarre - happened in the dream, but that is the image that stuck with me.
Now, some might mistake that for what my friend Mary Beth calls "baby fever" - the irrational desire to have another child just because the baby smells sweet, with utter disregard for the sleepless nights, temper tantrums and parental responsibilities that persist long after the baby smell wears off. Okay, maybe that's my definition, not hers.
Don't get me wrong - I loved those baby years - but as someone who married in her early thirties, I was pretty sure our first child would also be our last, and so I enjoyed every age. I still do, in fact.
And no, I'm not delusional, or a pollyanna. I just believe that each age has something to recommend it. Just as the baby smell compensates for the poopy diaper smell, so the car ride conversations help to make up for the eye rolls. And seeing your child demonstrate the things you know you've taught them when you thought they weren't listening compensates for practically everything else.
So when I woke up with the image of that sleeping child in my arms still fresh in my mind, I didn't feel bittersweet. Instead, I puzzled over where the image had come from (a conversation earlier that day with my sister, most likely) and smiled at the memory of my daughter at that age - the same teenager who was, at that moment, still sleeping peacefully in her own bed across the hall.
The dream was lovely, but in my case, reality is the blessing. Most days, anyway.