Oxygen and the air pressure are always being monitored. In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally. Although the bag does not inflate, oxygen is flowing to the mask. If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person. Keep your mask on until a uniformed crew member advises you to remove it.
- Airplane Safety Protocol
If you’ve ever taken a flight anywhere, you’ve heard this advice. You’re advised that in the event of a decompression, you are to put on your own mask before assisting anyone else, including your own children. That advice use to sound absolutely insane to me as a mom. As a veteran mom, that is some of the soundest advice I’ve ever heard!
I am a mom of four amazing children with a large age gap between most of the them. My sons are age 23 and 16. My daughters are both 3. When my oldest son was small, I believed that my primary job was to sacrifice. I should sacrifice my time, my talents, my desires, my life in general for him. He didn’t ask to be here, right? Therefore, I had to make sure his existence took priority over my own. In the event of decompression, in air cabin or in life, I needed to ensure his safety first. I mean, that’s what good mom does!
Now that I find myself 20 years older (and wiser) with twins, I understand the importance of my own well-being. There is no way I can single parent twins without having a level of balance with my own self-care. This has been amplified during the global pandemic of 2020. One day I told my toddler, “Where is your iPad? You need some screen time!” just so I could have a moment. I began to accept that while others searched for structure and routine, my sanity rested in releasing myself from the pressure of being “mom of the year.” Hell, I wasn’t even gunning for mom of the block!
Speaking of pressure…
My youngest son, who had lived in another state with his dad for almost his entire life, moved in with me less than a year ago. He wanted finish his last two years of high school with me saying that he needed a change. It was not a clean transition from the instability he called home for so long but I got him here and tried to get him rooted as much as I could. I knew that he was in a fragile state. I wanted to be the parent he needed. I wanted to be encouraging and motivating while also being sensitive and empathetic. He was damaged and I wanted to handle with care.
Things started out well! He made new friends, joined the football and wrestling teams, made the honor roll, and even met a girl. However, his unwillingness to address his underlying issues lead to dishonesty and mistrust. He began staying out late (if he came home at all), not keeping up with schoolwork, smoking marijuana, and God knows what else! His therapist was unable to get through to him as his attitude and behavior got worse.
The more I tried to address my concerns with him the more push back I got. His attitude worsened, the lies and deceit became more frequent, and him locking himself in his bedroom became the norm. It effected my mood too. Fighting my own depression started to become an epic battle. Therapy wasn’t helping me. I began taking anti-depressants just to stay afloat. The shelter-in-place order intensified everything. I didn’t feel trapped in my home. I felt trapped in my life.
Early one quarantine morning, I woke up before the twins and told my son to listen out for them. I was going to pick up a few groceries and would come right back. While I was out, he accidentally started a fire, and because lying had become so commonplace for him, he wouldn’t even tell me the truth about what happened.
I didn’t know what to do. I felt like the plane was going down. The cabin was losing pressure. The masks had long fallen from their compartment and appeared in front of me. And as I was struggling to secure my son’s mask first, I was suffocating.
I had to talk with my son again after yet another teacher called about his grades. In that moment, I decided to secure my mask. I prayed for God to speak through me to him. I prayed for God to open his heart. I prayed that God would forgive me for anything I’d done against my son and that my son would forgive me also. I prayed that whatever the outcome of the conversation was, I felt at peace. I wanted to accept that his reception of the message had nothing to do with the deliverance, and I couldn’t take that personal.
I secured my mask on first.
The outcome? My son has decided to go back to living with his dad. I don’t think it’s a good decision. I don’t think it’s the answer. I believe he’s still running from the real issue, but I am at peace.
And my mask is still secure.
I can breathe. I can home school my twins. I can love my sons. I can be a good friend. I can smile and sing. I can sleep at night. I can read my bible. I don’t have suicidal thoughts, and I wasn’t able to do these things without securing my mask, FIRST!
My mask is my faith. What is your mask? Find it and put it on. Trust me, it will save more lives than just your own.
After spending a year in grief counseling, I started to see that my life needed a major overhaul. Yes, my boyfriend died making me the single mom of our infant twins, but I was still grieving my loss of innocence from decades of abuse. I decided to turn my pain into a new purpose and to share this journey with others that may need some motivation.