I read a great Instagram handle the other day called @screwyou_treenuts. And I love it. I get it. That's exactly how I feel about food allergies. I hate them...with a passion. I wouldn't wish them on ANYONE, (not even those people who claim that eating a sandwich is more important than my child's life). However, this time of year, it is important to give thanks, and I have to admit, even food allergies have a silver lining. It is so important for me to remember this. Here is the so called bright side of food allergies for our family; the things I am thankful for.
1. Learning How to Cook and Bake Like a Champ
Before having kids, my cooking skills included microwaving a Lean Cuisine and making a mean turkey sandwich, like EVERYDAY. Cooking took a back seat to my career and I struggled to find time for regular meals, never mind using my stove. After having my daughter, I quickly learned that I had to make most of her food from scratch to ensure it was safe. Cue my discovery of Pinterest and The Food Network, and suddenly I'm the allergy recipe queen! And you know what? I actually love it! The thought of making home-cooked, delicious, safe meals for my kids is so satisfying. I feel like I'm sort of competing with her allergies and kicking their butt!
I've learned more about the importance of empathy and refraining from judging others through our family's experience with food allergies. I love the phrase "everyone is living a life and a struggle that you know nothing about; so be kind". It's so true, especially when it come to food allergies. I now realize that every time a parent makes a decision that I don't understand, that they have a reason for what they are doing. It's not my business to cast judgement. I know what it feels like to be judged and misunderstood; and it hurts. Because of this, I try to remember to have empathy and be supportive of other parents.
3. Grateful for Health
I'm grateful that this is our struggle and it's not something worse. I know from all of our ER visits, hospital stays, and appointments, that there are so many other families who cope with much harder issues. Food allergies stink, but we can live with them. We can manage them. We are so so lucky.
4. My Wonderful Friends
Through food allergies I have met so many strong, intelligent, allergy moms who are fierce advocates for their children. I am so inspired by them and their struggles and accomplishments. I have also found a supportive group of women who do not have children with food allergies, who absolutely "get it". This, I have heard, is rare. I am so incredibly thankful for their support. I could not do this without them. It truly takes a village!
5. My Amazing Daughter
I am so thankful that my child with food allergies is resilient, smart, capable, and learning to advocate for herself. She is such an inspiration to me, and I thank god every day that she is mine. We may have to struggle with food allergies, but if anyone can manage this, it's her. I know this is not going to hold her back in life. She will find a way to make her life exactly the way she wants it to be, regardless of whatever challenges she faces.
6. Finding my Inner Mamma Bear
I struggle with asking for help; for making "a fuss". I was brought up not to complain and simply accept what was given to me. However, this is not a great trait to have; it has not served me well in life. Since learning of my daughter's life threatening food allergies, I've been forced to advocate for her. I have had to stand firmly and ask for accommodations in order to keep her safe and included. This has been SO hard for me, but it has made me a stronger person. For this struggle and my personal growth, I am thankful.
Seeing all of these positive things is so helpful to maintain a positive mind frame and motivation to keep advocating for my daughter. I am hopeful for a cure, but also grateful for all that we have learned and how we have grown so far as a family. Today I am giving thanks to food allergies for all of this, as strange as that sounds. Wishing all of you a happy, healthy, safe, and inclusive Thanksgiving, from my family to yours.