I don’t know what it’s like to deal personally with food allergies as a mom. The only experience I have to compare it to is having to give up dairy myself while I nursed all three of my children, but this only lasted about six months with each and none of them have had dairy allergies as they’ve aged. The moms I know who deal with food allergies are many, both within my friend groups and my extended family. These women are tireless and fierce in their advocacy for their kids and aren’t given enough support.
Food allergy mamas, this one’s for you.
I see you. I can’t imagine the extra layer of anxiety added to the stress we moms already face when you have to worry about keeping your child safe from a potential allergic reaction every single day. Moms all feel heightened anxiety when we are near potentially dangerous situations, such as at the pool, but that abates once we are safely back home; your child must deal with food and the risks it carries all day every day. It must be exhausting when your kids first begin going to school or solo playdates to have to not only get used to them being away from you, but also to the idea that you won’t be there to monitor every food they are exposed to.
I empathize with how your heart must hurt to feel like your child is left out or overlooked during special celebrations for holidays and birthday parties. There are so many good allergy-friendly options in stores now that there really isn’t any excuse for not trying to accommodate every child in attendance. Childhood is full of enough reasons to feel singled out or different from one’s peers; having to eat a granola bar while everyone around you enjoys a cupcake shouldn’t be one of them.
I am outraged with you at the ways food allergies are handled in some schools. Are we really claiming that a parent’s freedom to pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in their child’s lunch is important enough to warrant your child having to sit at a lunch table alone each day? I hear how much it upsets even the kids without allergies that their friends should have to sit by themselves. What a missed opportunity to teach our children about putting others’ needs above our own wants.
I sense you wanting to apologize and worrying that other moms will find your need for nutrition information tedious or treat it as though it is the same as having a picky eater. But you have nothing to be sorry about. Food allergies are real and they can be devastating. No one should make you feel embarrassed about asking for information to protect your child.
I know it’s sometimes hard to write posts like this yourself because you worry it sounds like you are complaining or demanding special treatment. I remember when a working mom friend wrote a post about how incredible stay at home moms are and how validating that felt for me. It was encouraging to feel as though someone was seeing all that I went through as a stay at home mom without me having to beat them over the head with it.