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How a Momentary Loss of Attention Almost Cost My Daughter Her Life

How a Momentary Loss of Attention Almost Cost My Daughter Her Life | mostly mindful mommyI had my first child on New Year’s Eve of 2013, and she is the light of my life. I was 31 years old when we conceived, and I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to have children until the day we decided to start trying for one. She has changed my life in so many ways that would have been unimaginable to the childless me.

One day last June my husband and I took her camping, not for the first time, but the first time since she had started pushing up and rolling around. We have a pop-up camper, and I was playing with her on one of the beds. I stood up, and for an instant my attention was stolen by a father across the campground berating his son, who was no older than 7, for trying to help fold up some part of their camping gear in the “wrong” way.

I was appalled by the way this man spoke to his son.

I was horrified by the way he forcefully yanked him away from the item.

I was heartbroken to see that when his son got smacked SO HARD on the back of the head that he didn’t even flinch – this was clearly not the first time.

I was… pulled back to my 6 month old daughter by the most heart-chilling THUD I’ve heard in my life.

She had rolled off the bed, a solid 3 feet at least, onto the hard floor of the camper. She very easily could have smacked her head on a wooden cabinet just to the left of where she rolled off. She was lying there, completely still, not moving, not making a sound. I was shaking so hard when I snatched her up that I’m surprised that I didn’t drop her.

I trembled for hours afterward.

It took about 5 seconds, which felt like a year, for her to start howling. It began as that horrible, heart-wrenching silent cry. She was fine, but it was official – in my moment stolen to judge another parent I had become the worst mother in the world.

I spent the next week replaying the moment over in my mind. Thinking of how the slightest difference in the way she had landed could have severed her spinal cord, rendering her unable to walk for the rest of her life. I spent the next week reading stories of random accidents that happened to children – so many of them unpreventable. I will spare you the details of those here. I became terrified about my inability to keep my beloved daughter safe.

I was lucky enough to have two friends with children close in age to mine. I have texted these two women at all hours of the day, every single day since I have given birth. It still took me almost a week to tell them both what happened, but I felt so much better afterward. As you can imagine, they both had similar stories to share with me.

Two important things I already knew were reinforced by this incident:

1. JUDGEMENT OF OTHERS NEVER LEADS TO ANYTHING GOOD

One of the most valuable things the practice of mindfulness has given me has been the gift of acceptance, both of myself and others. By releasing judgement of myself, I have overcome an eating disorder. By releasing judgement of others, I am better able to love them unconditionally. I have been able to recognize that the behavior of others has nothing to do with me. I have not been able to reach such zen that I can observe child abuse non-judgmentally, but this was a great lesson in how costly it can be to have my attention stolen from my present by my own judgement of others.

2. IF WE COULD ALL BE MORE OPEN AND AUTHENTIC, AND SHARE MORE OF THE BAD, WE WOULD BE ABLE TO SEE MORE OF THE GOOD IN OURSELVES

Since this incident, I have heard so many stories from other mothers of “almost” moments with their children. When you really think about it, it’s impossible not to have these, considering how many moments are in the days, months, and years of our children’s lives. We cannot save them from everything, and we cannot judge ourselves relentlessly! But the most important realization here is that WE ARE NOT ALONE. We are experiencing exactly what countless parents before us have experienced.

If we spent our the time thinking about all of the wonderful things we’ve done for our kids rather than the few moments that we’ve failed them, we would be so much happier. If we spent more time sharing our own parental slip-ups with others, without judgement, we would all be more connected and compassionate parents. I, for one, resolve to keep trying.

 

I love camping! Well, most of the time…”

 



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11 thoughts on “How a Momentary Loss of Attention Almost Cost My Daughter Her Life

  1. Eileen says:

    I too had a similar moment when my 6 month old rolled down the stairs loke a bowling ball. It was awful and I felt the exact same way you did, beating myself up and not wanting to tell anyone for fear of judgement. <HUGS>

    Reply
    • the mostly mindful mommy says:

      Thanks for sharing! These experiences are so much more common than any new mother would think, and just knowing that makes them a little less stressful!

      Reply
  2. Heaven says:

    As the mother of six girls (one born on 12/31/01) I have had my share of sickening bumping sounds that I won’t ever forget. Thank goodness everyone is right as rain. Thanks for being so open. Although I must say, if I heard someone abusing their child I would be hard-pressed to not stand in judgment either. I’m your neighbor at SHINE. Following on G+. :)

    Reply
    • the mostly mindful mommy says:

      I can only imagine – especially once you have 6 running around at the same time I’m sure those bumps are only more frequent! Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  3. Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom says:

    So scary. I’ve had moments like those too… where my inattention led to this that could have had horrible consequences.

    Thank you for sharing your story. Sometimes it’s hard to dig deep and do this but it does impact others.

    Thanks for sharing at the #SHINEbloghop too.

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.

    xoxo

    Reply
  4. Jessica says:

    You are definitely not alone! I usually deliberately avoid the stories of tragic accidents happening to kids because I just can’t deal with any such thing happening to mine. Sometimes there really is nothing you can do – my son broke his arm right before his third birthday simply from landing on it wrong while playing. Obviously this is not the same kind of tragedy that many other sorts of accidents can cause, but it really made me realize how truly out of control we are! We just have to do our best, but being mindful definitely helps. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  5. Ntina says:

    Oh my God that must have been so scary! My baby girl is one now and every time she falls my heart stops. I agree on everything you say and especially that nothing good comes out of judgement of others! Thanks for sharing this experience to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party. I have pinned your post to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Board

    Reply
    • the mostly mindful mommy says:

      Thank goodness they are pretty durable at this age :) Thanks for pinning!

      Reply
  6. Jessica says:

    When my oldest daughter was born, my husband was deployed. When she was maybe two months old, I put her in her swing and went to the bathroom. Out of stupidity of exhaustion, or “I’ll just be gone a second” logic, I didn’t buckle her in, and she fell out. Hard onto the floor below her. I was terrified, and bawling. I called her pediatrician, who made me feel significantly worse about my parenting skills, and encouraged me to take her to the ER just to be safe. She was fine, and in a lot of ways, I am glad that I took her to the ER. Every nurse in there had a story (or two about their own kids falling. Even the doctor told me about his kid falling off a very tall bed. It certainly didn’t take away from what I had learned from the situation, but it was comforting to know that I wasn’t alone.

    Reply
    • the mostly mindful mommy says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your story, Jessica! You’re so right, everyone has a story just like this, and each time I hear one it makes me realize more and more how true that saying “it takes a village” really is. “It takes a village” because of the amount of support parents need from other parents to get through tough days and know they’re not the only ones who have been there!

      Reply
  7. Lisa says:

    Katy, Thank you for sharing your authentic stories! You are connecting families with your thoughts and wisdom.

    Reply

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