Jessica Thomas, her husband, and their children were visiting Disney’s Theme Parks for the first time over the weekend.
Now, Thomas wants other moms like her to know just how special those who work for Disney genuinely are. In a lengthy Facebook post shared on September 2, Thomas went viral after she explained that she was at Disney’s Animal Kingdom when her claustrophobia got the best of her.
I am claustrophobic. Anyone who really knows me knows this. It’s bad. I can normally control my panic attacks with breathing and visualizations but theme parks keep me anxious from the moment we park.
My children have never been to any Disney Parks. Today was their first time. As a mom, we feel a TON of pressure to create these “memories” for our children. We feel obligated to overcome our shortcomings for them. We do everything in our power to remove their worries or fears, so ours take a backseat.
So, in an effort to give her children those once-in-a-lifetime memories, Thomas attempted to put her fears behind her.
I am asking all 2,254 of you to share this post. Because I want this young lady at Disney's Animal Kingdom to receive…
However, due to her claustrophobia, the mom admitted she hates rides because nearly all of them cause “severe panic attacks,” which is exactly what happened when Thomas took her children on the Avatar boat ride.
I researched the ride, asked a ton of questions and even sat down. Then I looked up and I immediately was triggered from a grade school field trip to the Mariana Caverns. My heart was racing, my breathing was hard, and I felt genuinely scared of being trapped. It looked like a small cave. I stood up and got off asking my friends (Yaunee Okuneye and Ken Yinka) and husband (David Thomas) to take our 1-year-old so she could ride. She cried as I got off. So, I grabbed her and headed for the exit. I was embarrassed, sad for her, and sad that I also wouldn’t get to see my 3-year-old enjoy yet another experience because I was scared.
But then something life-changing happened to the mom of two.
According to the Facebook post, as Thomas began to tear up, a Disney employee, Samantha, took notice. As Thomas made her way back outside, Samantha asked her if she was okay.
Thomas said she explained everything to Samantha, who proceeded to stop doing what she was doing and offered to help try and ease the mom’s fears:
[Samantha] first offered to let me sit in the ride briefly to test the actual space while explaining all the details of the ride, but that was not the ABOVE AND BEYOND part. She said “Do you want me to ride with you?” Dadgum, I’m tearing up again right now in the hotel. She asked that question with such sincerity and understanding and overall compassion. All I could muster was a nod. She walked over with me and my baby to the front row. She not only held my hand the entire time but she also pointed out every single exit to me, told me about all the ways I was safe and how the cast members could come get me out if any of my worst fears came true. *Here is where she is an outright Godsend* While she was helping me through this, she simultaneously pointed out every detail of fun for my little girl and didn’t miss a beat.
As the mom added, it’s not the missing out on rides herself that makes her upset. She doesn’t mind taking the stairs to avoid the close quarters of an elevator or waiting for the next bus that’s less crowded.
But what she does mind is her fears getting in the way of her children experiencing all the world as to offer:
I am a mom now. And I don’t want my children to miss out on anything or me to miss moments of their childhood. So as I was trying to breathe and get through this, my baby didn’t miss a beat. Because Samantha was gripping my hand and using her other hand to point at fun things for my daughter and making her laugh and smile the whole ride.
I just can’t thank her enough. Your friends and family love you and try to understand; but after years, sometimes even they get worn down with accommodations or inconveniences associated your “issue”. But a perfect stranger immediately knew what to say and do. Today, I didn’t feel like less of a mom or less than at all. She made me feel…well.. just magical at Disney today.
Thank you so much, Samantha.
Thomas explained that she wanted to share her story so the “young lady at Disney’s Animal Kingdom receives the highest recognition” and so other moms don’t “feel alone when we aren’t perfect.”