With July 4th approaching, I couldn't push down the nagging urge and inkling that pops up every year…telling me I need to share my story with you all. My horrifying, embarrassing, life-changing story of that time I almost let my child die because I was distracted on Instagram. As with every year there is an outpouring of grateful comments, thanking me for the reminder of how important it is to be present with our children. There are also comments from people thinking I'm using this as a ploy to get more page views. I assure you, this has nothing to do with page views. As I share this story I implore and beg you to share this with as many families as possible. Not because it helps my blog stats (trust me, that's the last thing on my mind with this), but because even still, 3 years later, I get occasional anxiety when I see my son swimming under water. I still have dreams of pulling him out of the water, and still look at him with a pang in my heart, imagining what life would be like without him and thinking about how close we came to losing him. If my story can help even one parent avoid any of this, my job is done.
Enjoy your summer and holiday weekends. But please, leave your phone at home. Or on the boat. Or in your pool bag. Or, if you choose to take pictures (as we all do), save the IG posting and photo editing for when your kids are safely tucked into bed. Let us all remember to be present with our families this summer.
THE GIFT OF PRESENCE
(as originally posted HERE)
My son drown today.
Well, technically he nearly drown, but it doesn't make much difference to me right now.
They are both horrifying.
Both happen in an instant.
Both are things you think would never happen to you.
Both make you stop and appreciate the blessings in your life.
The difference? (and a big difference at that…)
For whatever reason, my son was spared. He nearly drowned, rather than drown-drowned.
That has yet to be determined, and maybe I'll never know (maybe so I could write this post?)…but it's something I plan to not really question or take for granted.
I learned a valuable invaluable lesson today, about being PRESENT. It's interesting because this subject has been on the minds of me and my husband for some time. What I mean by being present, is to be
To not just physically be there, but to really BE there. Soaking it all in. Participating. Adding to whatever it is. Enjoying. Not just being around, but being…present.
Today we went to the pool, like we do almost every single day. There is a nice, private pool in my new neighborhood that is 3 houses up from ours. I load my 11 month old girl and 2 year old son in the ol' plastic Red Flyer wagon (the one with cup holders. we don't mess around.), grab the Ikea bag filled with towels and snacks, pile the floaties on top of the kids, and head to the pool.
Bobbing just under the surface of the water.
I still don't know how he had the strength, but he was able to get his face just enough above water for me to see clearly that he was in distress. I could see his blue lips all the way from my pool chair.
Not too far from the edge of the pool…the edge of the pool where his floaties were lying…without him.
Ash white skin, lips blue. So blue.
His lips are so blue.
Oh my gosh his face has no color.
This can't be good.
After I made sure he was ok, breathing, and would respond when I talked to him, we walk around the pool deck, making casual chit-chat with the moms.
I start asking him questions to see how well he would respond.
“Buddy, did you take your floaties off?”
“Baby, you can't get in without mommy. That's a no no, that's a big no no.”
Scary? No kidding, bud. I hope that scared the pants off of you so you never take your floaties off again.
He's so exhausted.
Is he going to barf? I really don't want him to barf in his bed.
“Hello this is nurse so-and-so”. Tell her my story.
Um, no. Thanks, but no thanks.
Cha-ching, cha-ching! No thanks, not another ER bill, that's REALLY the last thing I need.
He's totally fine, just super tired is all.
Once the words “near drowning” buzzed around the ER, everyone sprang into action. We became the most popular people in the place. Five people immediately burst into the room. Blood pressure checks. Listening to lungs. Listening again. Heart. Ears. Eyes. Question after question. Orange stuffed animal for you. Do you like to color? Here are some crayons. Blood pressure cuff. Finger light thingie that looks like ET's finger.
Hustle, bustle, lots of concerns, lots of questions…all directed at me.
“How did this happen?”
“Where were you?”
“How did this happen?”
The same questions over and over, all with the same answer.
I wasn't paying attention and he jumped into the pool without his floaties on and almost drown.
Naturally, I left out the “I wasn't paying attention because I was on my phone” part.
The xray was horrific.
It took 4 of us to force him into this tiny machine that I can't even explain, with a huge plastic cuff that goes all the way around his tiny body and squeezes him so tightly that his arms are pinned above his head and he can't move, so they can xray his chest. He screamed with every fiber in his soul. They made us leave the room and stand in the hall, his screams and cries echoing off the stark walls. I was sobbing and couldn't talk.
I posted my story on Facebook first thing when I got home and keep having to stop myself from checking my phone to see who all has commented on it.
But writing helps. I'm facing the reality of the day, and – hopefully – doing some good in the meantime.
do we really need to take our phones to the bathroom with us? Check it first thing in the morning? The last thing at night? Have it with us while we're outside playing with our kids? In church? At dinner? On a date?I'm setting a goal to only check my social media only 2x per day, and the rest of the time it can wait.Presence is a gift. I plan to give mine to others, and to enjoy every moment of my children's gift to me.