Raising a child with food allergies is heart wrenchingly difficult. Walking out the front door doesn't mean leading the way to explore a world of wonder. Instead it opens to a minefield of perfectly normal, everyday food, all of it potentially lethal. It means constant warnings not to accept food from anyone, late night baking sessions to make consolation cupcakes to take to birthday parties, uncomfortable conversations with teachers and other parents, and constant, never-ending worry.
It's hard, but I've discovered some unexpected silver linings along the way.
Thankful for Food Allergies
Real Family Meals
Since going to restaurants, hitting a drive through, or heating up convenience foods is almost impossible, my only choice is to actually cook a decent meal. There's more labor involved, but my family has benefited nutritionally, plus we sit down together as a family almost every night.
Practice and necessity have also improved my cooking skills mightily. I bake our bread, make homemade stocks and soups, and bake some mean cookies, but pizza night is still everyone's favorite. Our family eats better with food allergies than we would without them.
For every time my son has been unintentionally excluded or thoughtlessly endangered, he's also been shown real caring by both children and adults. The mom of one of his friends told me her son had asked her to stop making him peanut butter sandwiches to take to school so that he could sit with my kiddo at lunch. A church group completely changed a program so my child could join in. At recess, a classmate his own age once noticed the hives on my son's neck and she got the teacher's attention before he had even realized he was having a reaction.
An Amazing Community
On the surface, only thing we have in common is a medical diagnosis, but I'm grateful every day for the food allergy community. I'm inspired by the parents who lobby for legislation to protect our children at school, organize walks to raise funds for a cure, and freely pass on every tip and trick they've learned. We've shared recipes, frustration, laughter, and tears. I've made friends I can count on for support anytime, who have become a part of my family.
I would never have chosen this path for my son or my family, but I am grateful for love it has brought into our lives.