The Food-Allergy-Mom: things that are hard
Before you think this is a whiny post about “Woe is Me,” I can tell you, I’m hoping that’s not what this is about. Instead, I hope to be real about some struggles and then follow it up with a post about “Things that are great about being an Allergy-Mom.” It might surprise you what thoughts go through my mind sometimes! Since there are some real sad moments as a parent of a milk-egg-peanut-allergic child, I thought I would share a few, through some events from the past few weeks and years.
A few days ago, I had a great park playdate with some Mom friends of mine. It was a chilly but sunny day and the kids had a blast. So much fun, that we were there well past noon. Usually, I have the kids home at noon for lunch (I’m a stickler for schedules and it even annoys me sometimes). Around 12:20, one mom suggested we move inside, into a warm restaurant and grab an impromptu lunch. The idea sounded great to me – I love when someone else makes me food! But, I didn’t have anything packed. No snacks. No almond milk. Heading to a restaurant would mean I could eat lunch, but my girl would be hungry. I might be able to find something for her to eat if I try – but most times there are no safe options or it ends up being a bag of chips or some other over-processed prepared food. So instead of going out with the other moms and kids, I put my kids in the car and we went home for lunch. I was sad and a little frustrated. I would love to keep the playtime going for her (and adult conversation for me!) as long as possible.
I just wish I was better at being prepared. If I kept snacks in my car or if I remembered to pack a lunch on a daily basis, I might be able to be more spontaneous. There I go with the Mom guilt again!
Another hard moment came up last weekend. We had lunch at Panera with some friends after church. I watched as two of our friends fed their two-year-old some yogurt, a grilled cheese, and a cookie. Our other friends fed their one-year-old son a bowl of mac-and-cheese. As I watched these beautiful babes devour their meals, I couldn’t help but feel sad inside. My daughter has never had any of those foods. And Panera makes amazing mac-and-cheese!
It’s not necessarily jealousy,but I know that the day is coming when she starts to really want the food that others have and, unfortunately, she won’t be allowed to. I feel like I say “No” to her all the time. “No, honey, that has egg in it.” “No, babe, I can’t share my drink with you.” “No, those aren’t safe for you, sweetie.” “That’s your brother’s pb&j, not your sunbutter&jelly.” And I’m sad every time I say these things.
Of course, I hope and pray every day that she will outgrow them soon and I can watch her enjoy her Grandma’s mac-and-cheese – and Panera’s too
Probably the hardest thing for me doesn’t actually involve food. Each night I kiss my kids goodnight. All three of them get hugs, kisses, prayers, and an occasional song. My son may be five but he will still give me a kiss on the lips. And I love it. It’s so innocent and sweet – and I know some day he won’t do it anymore. But I can remember the time I kissed my daughter on the face and she broke out in hives. I remember the times we were doing raspberries on her belly and she became so itchy that we had to give her Benadryl. I remember when my son tried to wipe her face by licking his thumb and she turned bright red. Each time, I was sad for her itchy self.
So, we’ve learned that when we give kisses, we can either kiss her on her head – on her hair is best, or do the side cheek kiss like you would give your Great Aunt Sally. The intimacy is there – we are a loving family. We just can’t give kisses on the face unless we are very certain we haven’t eaten anything she’s allergic to. If she doesn’t outgrow this, it will affect future relationships as well.
In the grand scheme of things, these are not that big of a deal. But, I hope I could give you a glimpse into some thoughts going through this allergy-mom’s head anytime food is around.
Do you have any things that make parenting more of a challenge for you? What are some things that make you sad and how do you respond?