Wednesday, March 12, 2014

On being an allergy mom...

I am an allergy mom.  The phrase has so many undertones flowing through it that there is a river of meaning, and the current changes depending on who you speak with about the subject.  We allergy moms, we have a decidedly different understanding of the term than others.

Let me tell you some of my realities as an allergy mom.

1) I really don't want to be here.  I spent years learning how to manage this disability, and I continue to learn more.  What I really want is the freedom to interact with food in a spontaneous manner, like the rest of the world.  I'm not sure you can fully understand what that means until that ability has been stripped from you.  

2) I'm an introvert, and I'm shy as well.  (No, they're not the same.) It takes an incredible amount of strength for me to continually speak up in order to advocate for my daughter's safety.  I hate making waves, I hate conflict, and I'm not a fan of drawing attention to myself.  I face hostility from many because my daughter has life threatening food allergies, and it's my job to speak up on her behalf.  I try my best to keep the inconvenience to others small.  I try to be pleasant, polite, and quickly out of the way.  And it takes loads of mental and physical energy to do it daily.

3)  I get angry about allergies too.  I understand why people who don't live with it might feel put out by having to accommodate my daughter.  There are days it p*sses me off to have to interact so carefully with food.  To spend hours at the grocery store reading every blessed label.  To avoid a can of flipping green beans -of all things- because they have a 'may contain' warning.  To have to spend an hour in the kitchen for EVERY meal.  To spend an extra hour in the kitchen for EVERY stinkin' birthday party, and classroom holiday party, and for every sweet child who wants to share a treat with the class.  I get angry about being left out of birthday party invites because of moms too nervous to invite my daughter.  At never being able to just order a d*mn pizza.  At cooking when I'm sick because someone has too...  It goes on and on.  Some days it gets to me.  Other days I roll with it.  Life's like that.

4)  My cell phone goes everywhere with me.  I check it every time it rings.  At the dentist.  At the doctor.  In the shower.  Because you never know when it might be the school calling about allergies. (Please note- I don't answer it every time.  Unless it actually is the school. Then I even answer through the Novocain.  True story. And yes, it was allergy related.)

5)  I don't expect anyone else to be able to feed my daughter, it's hard.  It means the world to me when someone wants to try.  Small gestures that make it easier for her to feel included make me melt.  I appreciate every one of them, from intention to execution.  Just the willingness to ask me if there is a way to include her makes my world a little brighter.

6)  I am proud of how much better my family eats now.  Because of my daughter's allergies, I have learned more about food than I would have ever known had I not been forced to study it.  The silver lining in this allergy cloud is a healthier family.

7) There will never be a list that captures the challenges or the triumphs completely.  Just as I will never fully understand what it is like to live with another disability, I don't expect everyone else to "get it".  What I ask for is a willingness to listen and be educated, to participate in a conversation that helps us better understand each other.

This is certainly not a full list, but it covers a few of the highlights.  Please, add to my list.  What are some of the challenges of living with a food allergy?

1 comment:

  1. Sums it up extremely well!!! Thanks for putting into words what sooo many of us are feeling ;o)


Always happy to hear from you, but please remember to play nice!