Not my dream, but a dream I really appreciated
A woman in her 50s, shares the dream in which she lives in a large white noisy house with many friends and two pets: a white puppy and a young bird in the process of learning to fly. The dog is not the same one she actually has (a brown puppy).
The bird is a beautiful creature, with colorful feathers and chirpy cheerful energy. Everyone at the bustling, busy house loved the puppy and the young bird — celebrating at each turn as the bird began to learn to fly. From first faltering efforts to eventually able to take to the air for longer and longer stretches everywhere inside the house.
The puppy loved the bird too. Where the bird flies the puppy follows. The two frolicked from the hallway to the living room to the kitchen and back, infecting the house and all its inhabitants with vibrant energy as constant reminder of the good life shared among all. If the dream had ended there then it would have been forgotten as so many other dreams.
In another moment, the bird dropped from the air, mid-flight, to the floor. The puppy hopped over to see his friend. but the young bird is still, motionless on the floor, missing its head.
Joyful dream is abruptly ended.
A consequence of being alive is that we will die. A risk of raising children is that they may die before us.
As children venture forth into the world, as we have personally experienced also during our own youth, dangerous consequences await. Marrying the wrong person, hanging out with wrong friends, driving too fast etc the list does not end.
Men and women during 5th decade of life often have children who are in their 20s. Separation from children raises anxiety in the parents that manifest in overt and covert ways. It is easy to say that the children are now on their own and will obviously have to fend for themself. But clearly if there is more that parents are able to do to keep their children safe, most parents will act without hesitation.
Fundamentally, the child rearing process does not have a clear termination point — rather it is a gradual transition starting after the birth and ending at the death of the parents (or child whichever comes first). Acknowledging that the parenting instinct still run strong even after children leave to begin their independent “adult” lives is key to navigating the maturation of the parent-child relationship. As there is no way to completely turn off the parenting instinct, the second best thing may be to channel these strong emotional energies in productive directions.
This is the task that our parents faced and struggled with and now it is our turn. If we are so lucky to make it this far.