Inspiration for childless and childfree women

Thoughts and ideas to inspire, uplift and affirm the childless and childfree, by circumstance and by choice


Over at Living My Life there is a post about a dream that I’ve been thinking about ever since I read it. The dreamer, who recently stopped trying to conceive, describes this part of her life as “a process of firstly digging myself out of a deep dark hole, but at times I see light so I guess I’m on the way”.

Her dream was about having to walk past a large python. Initially she wasn’t worried as she had dealt with pythons before, but this turned out to be an unusually frightening one.

“As I went to walk past he raised himself up and brought his head right up to my face – I had to put my arm up to protect myself and it took all my strength to prevent him coming closer to my head.  This was one huge python and somehow I think it was talking to me and making a deal with me, I have no idea what the deal was. It’s a bit foggy but I think I agreed to the deal and then having no thoughts of following through on the deal I started to run to get away.”

As she ran in the dream, people stopped and looked, most notably a woman who has rubbed her the wrong way in her waking life,  an “incredibly insensitive and annoying and condescending” person with “a husband, 2 children and lovely suburban lifestyle”.

“My most vivid recollection from this dream was of her standing safely with her family (along with others) watching me as I ran for my life to get away from this snake, that I could now see was chasing me and gaining on me.  I knew it was going to catch me, but there was nothing I could do and everyone else was too safe and secure with their families to even consider helping me.”

I think one reason this dream has struck such a chord with me is that it seems incredibly similar to one I had recently, in which I was swimming at a beach with some friends and relatives. Very suddenly I was the only one in the water, which felt much colder, and they were all on the sand in little beach tents with their families while a terrifyingly strong current pulled me further and further out to sea.

I’ve thought about that dream a lot and hoped that if I ever get to return to it (which does sometimes happen with important dreams) I’ll be brave enough not to fight the current but to relax with it, floating on my back in the sun, and see where it takes me. I would so love to know.

As for the dream I read about this morning, I am especially curious about the deal the dreamer made with the snake. My hunch is that it’s a better deal than she may have guessed. After all, the crowd (including the condescending woman) is just standing around. Even though it’s frightening not to feel protected among them, she is the one running ahead. And even though the snake seems frightening, he is actually the source of energy that is propelling her forward. If she ever returns to this dream, I suspect that when she lets him catch up he’ll turn out to be much more of an ally than he seemed.

If you’re interested in reading about fears encountered by some non-mothers, you might like this post about old age or this post about the pressure to succeed.

But in the meantime, how about you? Have you ever had a dream you suspect is about non-motherhood? Do you have anything to add to the analysis of these dreams?

[The beautiful image above appears with permission from Sweet William.]


11 comments on “dreaming

  1. Kaitlyn
    April 28, 2012

    All dreams mean something. I’ve had many “what if” dreams about having a child with my fiance – what would he/she look like? how great of a kid would he/she be? what would they accomplish? But then again, these dreams never made me WANT to have a child; these dreams are just a way to tap into my deep thoughts. Oh by the way Olivia, I have a friend who may go into blogging. What is it like, and may I send him a link of your work?

    • olivia reading
      April 28, 2012

      I sometimes feel as though dreams give tastes of possible futures like this Kaitlyn. I’ve sometimes dreamt that I have a baby and I’m confused because I don’t remember being pregnant or giving birth. Other times I dream that I have a child and I’m confused then because I don’t remember him or her being a baby…

      I love blogging – I find it a brilliant way to get my thoughts in order and its fantastic to have thoughts and feedback from people interested in the same kinds of things. I highly recommend it to your friend and I hope you’ll let me know if I can be of any help to him.

      • Kaitlyn
        April 30, 2012

        Thank you very much 🙂

  2. Kristen
    April 28, 2012

    Olivia, what a wonderful way to interpret what sounds like a terrifying dream! For a number of years when I was experiencing an unusual amount of stress, I would often dream of being pursued by large predatory animals that wanted to eat me and tear me to shreds. I was never caught and eaten because I would wake up in a panic and end the dream. I wonder now though, if I would be able to consciously carry your interpretation with me into a dream like that and turn and face the animal or look around me to see what new wonderful place I’ve run to. It’s such an interesting way to re-evaluate both the unconscious dream and real-life experience causing the stress. I’ll be mulling this one over for a while. Thanks!

    • olivia reading
      April 28, 2012

      Those dreams sound awful, Kristen! I’m delighted to hear the analysis might be useful. Given how infrequently any of us really are chased by animals, I wonder if there’s some memory of an earlier time in our evolution that keeps the possibility alive in our minds…

  3. Kate
    April 28, 2012

    I haven’t really had any dreams about non-motherhood specifically, but I have had many nightmares about motherhood. I had one a few weeks ago where I was going into labour and I was confused as to how and why I ended up pregnant. I was so angry and I said to my partner: “You SAID you were fine with not having a baby, so why am I doing this???” and he said: “I’m fine with it, but my mother wasnt” and I looked across the room and my mother-in-law was there smiling. In real life, my mother in law is not at all manipulative and has been very supportive of my choice not to have kids, so i dont know what this dream was about!
    I had another dream around the same time where I had a baby and then found it incredibly boring and a bother and I kept leaving it places by accident. Then my parents decided to raise it and i felt quite grateful since i really didnt know what to do with it.

    • olivia reading
      April 28, 2012

      Such interesting dreams, Kate! Given that the mother-in-law was so unlike herself in the dream, I wonder if there’s a possibility that she personified some aspect of yourself – a part that isn’t quite ‘fine with it’? Or if the baby wasn’t a baby, but signifies a beginning/birth of something else that you have a hunch your mother-in-law is pressuring you to do?

  4. Sparklingrain
    April 28, 2012

    I have yet to have a dream about non-motherhood. I dream a lot about arriving late for an exam (I stayed in school for some 24 years of my life), or arriving for exams naked, or having to present my research in front of nasty judgmental people. I guess that may mean my work means a lot more to me than having a child? 😐

    I think it’s wonderful that sometimes our subconscious tries to communicate with us during sleep 🙂 The dream of being alone in the open sea sounds terrifying to me, and makes me wonder whether our “otherness” in that we don’t have children is really that terrifying.

    • olivia reading
      May 8, 2012

      Sparklingrain, your lovely comment got lost and I only just found it – I’m so sorry for the delayed publication and response! Like you, I love the idea that our subconscious minds are on our side, offering helpful hints here and there.

      Also like you, I’ve had WAY more of the exam/conference paper dreams than any whatsoever to do with children! I’d say it all occupies a lot more of my headspace too :).

      I’ve just spent the last few minutes trying to leave a comment on your blog to say how much I enjoy your fiction writing, but no luck! I can’t seem to log in there. Your work is really beautiful though!

  5. honeymyrtle
    April 29, 2012

    Like others have mentioned – any dreams I’ve had about children seem to be along the lines of being shocked at being pregnant or having a baby. I always have really mixed feelings – some wonderment, the weight of sudden responsibility but mainly ‘what have I done, and how did this happen?’ In these dreams I am usually very forgetful and neglectful of the baby, and berating myself for that, and all the while having this niggling feeling ‘I knew this wasn’t really for me’.

    I tend to like to interpret these dreams quite literally – as though my subconscious is affirming my life choice. : ) But I’m also aware of the dream symbolism Olivia is talking about above – where the baby/birth might be about other new projects or different aspects of my life.

    This has prompted me to take a little more notice of my dreams for the next little while… I’ve certainly been thinking about all of this a lot in the last little while.

    Thanks for yet more inspiration!

    • olivia reading
      April 29, 2012

      As is so often the case with this blog, I am amazed at how much some of us seem to have in common. Dreams seem to me to be so intensely personal and yet some of our interior landscapes are obviously very similar! The way you’ve described those dreams in the first paragraph above is a perfect description of my own. I think perhaps I have this dream about once a month…

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