Thank You, Mom. For Saving My Life. Again.

The first time, we were hiking. On a trail we know and love but hasn’t been properly maintained. We won’t be hiking it again until the boys are older, due to the dangers that lurk, but we didn’t know this at the time.

A narrow portion of the trail with a steep drop-off.  Tree roots underfoot. A broken railing.

“Stay to the right. As close as you can,” my husband cautioned.

There was no talking. Only concentration. And then it happened. My not-so-graceful 7-year-old stumbled and tumbled over the edge. With reflexes of a Jedi, I grabbed his flailing arm. He dangled for a moment in mid-air and I yanked him toward me.

His eyes wide with fear, he said, “Mom! You saved my life!” And then tears started to well up. In both of our eyes.


Yesterday. Giggling in the TV room. I walked in. Two little boys, cuddled on the couch together. One boy at each end, sharing a blanket.

As soon as I walked into the room both boys hid under the blanket. I knew something was up. I yanked the blanket off them. Their little legs were buried in Starburst wrappers. An entire bag, gone. All before 9am. Breakfast of champions.

I couldn’t help but laugh. It was a comical scene. Two little boys, sneaking candy for breakfast. Succeeding – at least until Mom walks into the room. I’m a horrible disciplinarian and I own it. With my laughter, they begin laughing, too.

And then it happened. #2son started choking.

Any first aid training I’ve ever had started racing through my mind. As long as he’s coughing, it’s OK. Don’t do anything. But the Heimlich maneuver. I know how to do it for an infant. I know how to do it for an adult. But a 7-year-old? Will I crush him? What if I don’t do it hard enough. Ok. Calm. If it gets to that point have #1son call 911.

“Can you walk?”

Eyes wide with fear he nods, yes.

“Go into the bathroom,” I direct him. I don’t know why I want him in the bathroom. I suppose because I’m envisioning squeezing the guts out of him and anticipating his vomit and offending candy all over the place. After all, I just vacuumed.

“It’s OK,” I tell him. “Keep coughing. It WILL come out.”

I don’t know how I’m staying calm. Three minutes, I remind myself. Only three minutes without oxygen. How fast can the ambulance get here?

And then it happens. He can’t cough. He looks at me, afraid, and his skin is starting to turn colors.

I shout, “Open your mouth. Wide! Wider!”

I jam my hand in his mouth and yank on a enormous gob of chewed Starburst. It’s stuck on his back teeth and blocking his airway. The coughing starts again and the huge blob lands in the sink.

He grabs me around my middle, holding me for dear life. I hold him exactly the same way.

“Thanks, Mom. For saving my life again.”


Oh. That’s right. Two months ago, on our hike.

“I hope I’m here, every single time, to save your life.” And I hug him even closer.


When things like this happen. When I hear of the teenager playing hockey, who in a freak accident, is now paralyzed. When a child dies in a bicycle accident. I just want to wrap my children in bubble wrap. Or keep them at home and pad the rooms. Feed them liquids and finely diced solid food. Make wearing bicycle helmets a prerequisite for leaving the house.

But I can’t. Life is full of risk. In order to fully live, we must take risks. Every single day. Small risks. Big risks. Calculated risks. Split-second risks.

We can’t live in a bubble. And our children shouldn’t either.

But, dag gum it, I’m going to be there, every step of the way, with hands at the ready.

To save his life.

If I can.


Filed under All In A Day's Work, children, Growing Up, Lessons Learned

14 responses to “Thank You, Mom. For Saving My Life. Again.

  1. How scary! Thank goodness you were there!

  2. Holy crap that gave me chills. I’ve had to give Olivia the Heimlich 4 times and it is so scary. I’m so glad you were there.

  3. Ahhhhh! Terrifying. And it was all such fun and games until the choking!

  4. You need a cape! 🙂

    Happy New Year!!!

  5. Thank goodness you were around both times and responded so quickly! I must admit that I worried excessively about “freak” accidents with my children. As a nurse, I had seen all sorts of weird things so so horribly wrong.

  6. Scary stuff. I always wonder how parents who have lost a child go on–I am pretty certain my life would be over. It would be nice if worrying and excess caution would keep them safe…but it doesn’t. We all know parents who boarder on neglect when it comes to there kids and they breeze through…and the parents who snap car seats, bike helmets, and issue dire warnings before the car leaves the driveway without them…who have suffered unimaginable losses. Sheesh…trusting our children to fate and angle wings…is probably the hardest thing the Universe asks us to do as parents…
    Mothers..such an essential parenting ingredient! Love little boys who eat Starbucks for breakfast…Why Not!

  7. Wow. I need to go breathe deeply for a bit.

  8. I can hardly breathe reading this, Jane. I have known these moments on occasion when my boys were little – rarely, thank God.

    With both of them home, and the car in constant use (by them), their comings-and-goings (and teens are still kids even if they do now live away at college), I am reminded of how many risks life presents where we aren’t there to protect them.


    Thank God you were there. Twice.

  9. Wow. Both scenarios sound so scary. I guess this is just a glimpse into the worrying that comes with being a mother. So happy that you could be there for your boy!

  10. You’re making me cry in relief. Thank goodness it turned out alright!

  11. So glad everything turned out OK. We had a similar choking incident with my oldest when he was 2 on a chicken nugget. The terrified look I remember in his eyes during it still haunts me.

  12. Wow, that would have been scary…both times. Thankfully you were there when he needed you! Remind him of these times when he’s 16 and wants to take the car!

  13. Wow. That is- Wow. If I’m ever in that kind of situation, I hope I can be like you.

  14. Scary, but I am so glad it ended with a hug.

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