Dear Dream Doctor,
I have a recurring dream every few months or so that I have had for years. In
the dream I realize that it is the end of a semester, and I have forgotten to go
to math class the whole semester and am very worried about failing. Sometimes
I'm in college, (where I did fail a math class), but more often I'm in high
school, (where I did very well in math, but had some conflicts with two
It is always math, never another subject. Once, it was so realistic, (when I was
still in college), I woke up in the middle of the night and located my schedule
to convince myself I hadn't signed up for the math course.
Also, if I can bother you some more, my 7-year-old daughter woke up last
night with a bad dream. She dreamed we were at a festival and I ran away from
her and she kept calling my name but I wouldn't come back and she was all alone.
Do you think I've done something to make her feel like I'm running away from
her? She's my only child. I felt so guilty and sad even though it was her dream.
Thanks for your help.
--Lisa, Age 33, Female, Married, Okemas, MI, USA
Hi Lisa -
Believe it or not, I think your two dreams are related, and I'll tell you
"Back to school" dreams are incredibly common among busy people.
Doctors, lawyers, professionals, busy housewives - nearly everyone has had one.
(Do an informal survey among your friends - you'll be surprised how many of them
will say, "Oh yeah! I've had that dream!")
Your dreams clearly stem from your anxiety - no doubt born in college - about
being able to pass your math tests. The common thread, though, is that we all
felt that same anxiety when we prepared to take a test - no matter what the
subject was. Will we pass? Are we prepared? Did we remember to study everything?
Now that we've grown up and the days of test taking are long in our past, the
dreams strike us as odd. Surely we can't still be traumatized about taking some
test in college? The link, though, is that our everyday life still is full of
similar "tests" and anxieties. Will we be able to complete all the
errands we have to do tomorrow? Will we be able to grocery shop, clean the
house, and pick up our kids from school - in time to cart them off to soccer
If we work (in addition to all our everyday tasks) we have a second set of
anxieties. Will we finish our work projects on time? Will our co-workers think
we have done a good job? Will we keep our jobs? Will we "pass the
Are you beginning to see the connection? The anxiety we feel in our everyday
lives reminds us of the anxiety we felt back in high school or college before an
exam. We're about to be tested, and we wonder if we can keep up!
Because you're a busy Mom, it's normal that your daughter feels she
occasionally doesn't get to see you as much as she would like. The fact that
you've written in here to ask about your dream, however, to me indicates a
"caring for" Mom rather than a "running away" Mom. Your
daughter sees a mom who is always running, but I think it is clear you are a mom
who is running for her daughter - not away from her.
Congrats on being a Super Mom. You're daughter is a lucky child. Your care
will be reflected in her life forever.