It's happened to me. I had to stop him climbing out of an upstairs window. Think how bad you feel. That's why you're a good mum.
I am glad he is ok. Many years ago, I stood by my brother's hospital bed as he fought for life after sustaining a traumatic brain injury in a motorcycle accident. I didn't believe in God, but I prayed anyway. I bargained for his life. Now, of course, I see the folly in that, but I felt so helpless. He survived, and I did finally keep my side of the bargain - I vowed to not touch alcohol again.
I have also had an incident where my son's life flashed before my eyes. We were dog-sitting a big sweetie of a boxer. He got out and made a run right across the street where our neighbor was getting out of the car. I told my son to stay in our yard, but in his excitement, he ran across the street behind me. A car that neither of us had seen came to a screeching stop to avoid hitting him. I still feel sick and a little dizzy if I think about that too much. I may have said, "Thank you, thank you, thank you," but there really was nobody to thank besides the alert driver. I felt guilty for not paying better attention, but I was focused on trying to not have the dog scare/bite the neighbor.
I imagine every parent has had moments like this. Our lives could have changed in an instant. It is only natural to thank goodness, god, the universe, or whatever.
It's also natural to doubt your own position in life and it's actually a good thing. It's a sign that you are human. I think God is a concept that people come up with based off of a highly emotional experience. Many people say spiritual, but I really think it's just high emotion. I'm not surprised that you are still shaken by this event. Although, just saying "Thank you, God" doesn't mean that you aren't an atheist. Most atheists say it at times because it is a socially common phrase to say when seemingly miraculous things happen. It's a phrase we've all heard thousands of times and it's the most fitting thing to describe any favorable outcome. Just because you thought of God doesn't mean it exists. I think emotion is what should be focused on when these kind of things happen. Always remember that strong emotions change your thinking patterns and can blur the lines of logical thinking in your head. Don't worry, it's perfectly normal the way you feel right now. It'd be normal even if you are still jittery after two whole weeks. If it continues to bother you, then it will definitely change your thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs.
I'm glad your kid is okay, Belle.
If there is no God, why was he the first person I cried out to when my son could have died?
Because that was your go-to answer for how many years before?
Am I really an atheist?
If you don't believe in god, yes.
I agree that it is natural to thank something that you think may have guided you into avoided a tragic situation. We know that we have very limited powers when it comes to our personal skills and abilities. The most important thing is that you kept calm enough to save your son. We all have moments when we thank higher powers which are unclear in whether they exist or not. Anyways, what matters at the end of the day, is that you were the one who saved your son and is still here with you today because you had the knowledge, strength, and abilities to do so. :)
Almost losing your son is a big deal. Let it settle in and take your time. I know that it seemed to be miraculous but all sorts of things happens to people everyday. Almost all of those people want to have something to thank for something that was completely out of their control. Although, who's to say what really happened? God is a word used to describe anything seemingly miraculous that happens. There could be a real unknown alternative force to God that could have intervened in this event. There's no way to know if it was a supernatural thing that happened or just an event that you happened to catch on to. I can't tell you what happened because I wasn't there and don't know if there is anything supernatural in this world. In the meantime, just take your time thinking it through. :)
Belle - "what if I had looked over even 5 seconds later?" - whatever happened, you were going to find him straight away. I'm sure you were like a vigilant meerkat who got distracted for maybe 5 seconds. If you had looked over 5 seconds later, the situation would have been no worse. He wouldn't have burst into flames in that time.