I’m going to be very upfront with you. Some of the emotions in this post are pretty raw, and ultimately exactly how I feel (a lot of the time, but not always). Some days are better than others, but there comes a time when one must get things off their chest. It’s Food Allergy Awareness Week, and if I wasn’t an introvert, this is what I’d shout to all of the non-food allergy parents out there to raise a little “awareness” of the realness of food allergies.
I’m jealous. I know we’re not supposed to be jealous of others, but I am. When we go to the local dairy farm and I look over at your kid peering in the ice cream case to make his choice, I’m jealous. Just once I’d love to be able to take Nathan out for ice cream (spontaneously, at that!) and let him stand on his tippy toes to peer in at the rainbow of ice cream flavors….and pick whatever he wanted.
I’m jealous of those pictures you post on Facebook of your kid at the major league baseball game, holding a hot dog….that you didn’t bring from home. You see, when we go somewhere we pack food. Every. Single. Time. How do we keep a hot dog warm after an hour drive from home, a long walk into the stadium, and the search for our seats? We don’t. He’d have to eat a cold hotdog, or something that didn’t need to be warmed up.
I’m jealous when you invite us to lunch after a play date at the park, but we can’t go. It hurts to see everyone driving to the restaurant as we turn to head home….because I didn’t pack a lunch for Nathan, and the restaurant food would send Nathan into anaphylaxis faster than you could say “I’ll have a cheeseburger, please.”.
I’m jealous when we go to church or story time and the teacher brings an unplanned snack-that is unsafe and I didn’t know to bring a safe alternative. I see your kid gobbling up their candy or treat out of the corner of my eye, while I squint to read the ingredient list. I only read it because Nathan asked me to. I know that he can’t have tootsie rolls or doughnuts, but for some reason he thinks there is hope if I check the label.
I’m jealous of your vacation. You stay in a hotel and go out to eat at Rainforest Cafe, Olive Garden, and Texas Roadhouse. We stay in a hotel suite with a refrigerator and microwave, pack every single meal in advance, and often eat several meals in our hotel room. A vacation is not relaxing to me when it comes to food. It’s harder and more tiring. I have to cook, pack, and plan for every snack and meal, and then some. I cannot run out of safe food for him.
I’m jealous that your kid can go to birthday parties and eat the pizza and the cake that looks like a racetrack with Lighting McQueen racing through sweet, buttery icing. Thankfully Nathan is still OK with his mom-made cake with white Pillsbury icing with added sprinkles to make it more festive. Someday this will change, I know. Tears will flow, and he’ll feel down in the dumps that he’s the weird kid. I dread that day.
I’m jealous that you’re not scared to send your kids to preschool or Vacation Bible School without you there. You see, I can’t trust that anyone else would react fast enough if Nathan were having an anaphylactic reaction, or even realize he was having a reaction at all. Would they be brave enough to give the Epi-pen, or would they just call 911? By the time the medics got there, he could be in cardiac arrest….and it’d be too late.
I’m jealous that you don’t have to wipe down restaurant tables, grocery carts, chairs-you name it-every time you go out in public.
I’m jealous that you don’t freak out every time your kid coughs. Your kid will go to school and never bat an eye at unsafe foods in the cafeteria. He’ll go to a friends house and have a PB & J for lunch. He may be on a little league team, and enjoy the pizza party after the big win. He’ll never have to say, “Don’t touch me until you wash your hands” or “No, thank you” when he really wants to say “Yes, please!” when you offer to share your brownie. Oh, and Halloween. I just thought of that. That’s a whole new post.
I’m jealous that you don’t have to read food labels one, two, and three times. You grocery shop based on taste, desire, and price. I grocery shop based on safe and unsafe.
I’m jealous. I get scared. I’m fed up. I am angry. I’m tired of researching recipes. I cry. I’m disheartened with positive blood test results. I’m terrified of food challenges that fail. I get tired of people staring at me when I look like a crazy germ-o-phobe while wiping down restaurant tables. It’s not easy. I hate it. Adrenaline shoots through my body and I shake when I think he’s having a reaction or gets a hive on his face. I live and breathe Nathan, food allergies, and safety. Sometimes I hate food, cause I get tired of thinking about it.
That’s a glimpse into my daily life. Am I uptight? Yes, a lot of the time I am. Am I overreacting? You the non-food allergy mom may think so, but I’m not. Dealing with the the possibility of death at any moment of any day is anything but relaxing.
Yes, this a lot to take in, and may be rolling your eyes, but this is my life. Food allergies have made me more aware of others, and I will listen to your parenting hardships if you need to vent. Hopefully this post has made you more aware of food allergic kids and their families and how we feel while keeping our kids safe (and this is really just a few situations that are difficult). I pray that you will be more accommodating, less judgmental, and stop rolling your eyes. I promise we food allergy moms don’t act like this all the time (at least outwardly), and I promise that I have a turn-that-frown-upside-down response to these rants, which I will share with you later this week. But, no matter how I feel, when I lay my head down to sleep at the end of the day, this little gentleman makes it ALL worth it! God has blessed me with a curious, energetic, persistent guy and I love him, food allergies and all.
Now it’s your turn to vent. Please share, let it out, and know that others like you are listening. Food Allergy Moms, what makes you jealous??