It still gives me chills to talk or write about this horrific incident. It was so life altering and eye opening; it was my "ah-ha" moment. In those few seconds that seemed like days, I had lost a part of myself, the part that always thought I was in control. I fled when I should have fought. What would I have done if my husband wasn't home? What was I doing crying on the floor? Why was my 5-year-old comforting me when I should have been comforting him? Why didn't I have the sense to stick my finger down my daughter's throat immediately? I simply panicked. I froze like water turning to ice.
Endocrinologist Hans Selye discovered the concept of fight vs. flight. He stated that when fear arises and we perceive a significant threat to us, our bodies get ready either for a fight to the death or a desperate flight from certain defeat by a clearly superior adversary. At times, our bodies just go numb or we "freeze." Seyle's concept is brilliant and true but for me, the real question is: can we control whether or not we fight or flee?
After my daughter began breathing again, my husband made his way down the steps to where I was sitting and laid into me. In a stern voice, he said, "Sue, you have to react first and panic later. What would you have done if I was not here?" At first, I was filled with anger towards him and rebutted with, "I did the best I could. I'm sorry." But later that day, I began to think to myself, "Maybe my husband was right and I could have done better."
Perhaps I could have used self-talk and said to myself, "Stay calm here and take action." Paramedics seem to be able to do it when they arrive at a catastrophe. Why can't a supermom, like me? The answer is that supermom can and most people can, too. They just need an honest husband like mine to give them a dose of reality and a belief in yourself that you actually do have power over your actions. 2 Types Of Parents: Which One Are You?
I have always been a firm believer that if we model positive behaviors for our children on a consistent basis, our children will most likely emulate those behaviors. Of course, we are not perfect; every mom has a bad moment once in a while. Yet, children are like sponges soaking up information in their early years. They often do what they see. So, my suggestion to all you supermoms out there is to be an example for your child.
Do what you can to enforce positive behaviors. You will be amazed how much less anxiety you and your child will have. "When you do know better, you must do better." These are the famous words of Maya Angelou and I know now how true this saying really is. Now that I know better, I do better. Since that horrific summer day in August of 2010, I have been able to do a better job at fighting rather than fleeing.
For instance, the other day, my now 7-year-old son jumped off the bed and came very close to banging his chin on the corner of the post. For a minute, I felt myself almost retreat to panic, but I quickly pulled back and calmly walked over to my son and said, "It's alright, but don't you ever do that again." After all, I am still a concerned mom. I will always have fears and worry about my children, but I also have more control than I ever thought I had. So, thank you my dear husband, I guess you are right once in a while.