Food Allergy Experience

5 Things My Allergic Son Has Taught Me

Before I was a parent, I could list off a million things I wanted to teach my future children. I didn’t think much about what I would learn from them. Now as a parent, I see my role as both the teacher and the student. I learn something from my children every week, probably every day. Yeah, they’re always teaching me and, sometimes, re-teaching me things.

Today, I was thinking, as I do on occasion, how much I’ve gained from having the Little Guy. His older sister really rocked our world. She was born opinionated and sassy. She pushes our limits one second and then steals our heart the next. We had to learn quickly how to manage a little girl who knew she was the princess. The Little Guy’s personality is very different. He’s laid back and quick to laughter. He thinks (ok, knows) he’s hilarious. He’s adventurous and never tires of exploring.

I’ve been very blessed (yes, I did say blessed) to have a kid with food allergies. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a challenge and I get frustrated sometimes. It’s certainly turned our world upside down a few times. However, his allergies have taught me a few things. Here is 5  life lessons having a child with food allergies has taught me.

1) Compassion for others

I’ve always considered myself compassionate, my job requires compassion. You can’t take care of patients without compassion. I think (well, hope) that most who’ve met me would say that I’m compassionate, even before the Little Guy. He, however has taught me a deeper meaning to compassion. It’s easy to be compassionate towards people for a few hours or days or intermittently. Its easier yet to be compassionate towards people when you don’t have to worry that their mistake could send your baby to the ER. It takes real compassion to tirelessly educate those caring for the Little Guy. It takes a whole lot of compassion to forgive people when they’ve made a mistake with the Little Guy. And, it takes a lot of compassion to continue to interact with those who don’t seem to get how serious things can be.

I wasn’t that compassionate at first in regards to others and his food allergies. I was understanding at first but then as time went on, I wasn’t. I’ll admit, I’m not perfect yet. I still get overly frustrated and still want to avoid the people who I’ve failed to be able to educate. But, I’ve gotten better. We’ve set ground rules and we stick to them. If it’s not Little Guy safe, we don’t do it. Bottom line, his safety comes first. I’ve learned to forgive when mistakes happen. Little Guy’s allergies are forcing me to be more compassionate.

2) Flexibility in schedules

Before he came along, I’d say, I’m flexible. Let’s run there do that. Sure no problem. Then enter food allergies and it became very difficult to plan errands or a day at the park. I quickly learned how inflexible I really was. I didn’t want to adjust. I had bragged about how we took our kids everywhere. Then, we stopped taking them anywhere. I’ve now had some time to adapt (I”m a slow adapter), subsequently, I’ve learned to be more flexible. We can’t do dinner but we get together before or after. We pack our lunch for family outings and road trips instead of eating out. We don’t do houses with cats and most with dogs (there are a few hyper-hygenic people whose house we visit with dogs), but we can plan something outside. I’ve learned to not plan a Saturday packed full of activities, because it will take us time to get everything packed up to go.

3) Time Management

All parents learn time management has new meaning after that baby arrives. This was true for us. I had to re-look at my time management plans as I began to plan and pack Little Guy’s food every morning. In order to more efficiently plan and prepare food; I started a family binder. This binder has daycare’s menus, shopping list, our weekly menu, and a recipe index. I’m still working on the recipe index but otherwise the binder is up and running. It also has important info for the babysitter including the asthma and allergy action plans. I make my menu and shop for two weeks at a time. Prior to him, I would’ve thought making food from scratch and preparing his daily food every morning was too much to do in the morning. I now have a great system in place to get them out the door on time.

4) What’s in the Food matters

Prior to food allergies, I thought I fed my family healthy. I must admit now that I did not do as well at this as I thought. Now that I read every label before it enters into my shopping cart, I know I did not pay enough attention before.  Soy, milk, wheat are frequent ingredients along with tons of  preservatives fill the shelves. I now look at the labels and realize how many preservatives people eat daily. We’re no longer eating all that junk. I pay very close attention to all ingredient labels and look for foods that have ingredients that are pronounceable. Not that we don’t eat some pre-packaged foods, he does love cookies, but I really limit these foods as much as possible. Since I now make lots of my food from scratch, I can honestly say, we eat pretty healthy in this house.

5) Time to Smell the Roses

If you’ve ever watched your kid go from alright to anaphylaxis or spend time in the hospital, you learn quickly that life is short. The Little Guy has taught me to sit back and smell the roses. I’ve learned that its OK to just sit and enjoy time with the kids. My new focus has created a slightly different approach to parenting. I’ve always been one of those moms who stop what they’re doing when able to pay attention to her children. Now, I don’t question stopping to smell the flower he just picked for me and is proudly asking me to put it in my hair. Those moments I treasure. I know the won’t last forever. And now, I take the time to just hang out with the kids. My housework has suffered some, I’ll admit. But its amazing to just sit and relax with them.

As you can see, my allergic child has helped me and taught me. That, in my opinion, is one of the best parts of being parent, learning from our kids.

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9 Comments

  1. I relate to this on so many of your five points. As someone who has suffered and still do suffer from food allergies, planning is the big key. I get frustrated when we are going to visit a friend for dinner outdoors (mine is outdoors because their house is too fragrant and full of chemicals for me to sit in there and dine). I always ask what they are preparing and how they are preparing the meal so that I can figure out what part, if any, of the meal I can eat and then plan on what I must take with me to eat. As difficult as things are for me, I know there are many others out there suffering with similar and worse situations. Compassion for others that I depend on to give me the right list of ingredients and to remind others who may be there to come fragrance free is a big deal. Sometimes they forget to tell someone and we have to deal with the seating arrangements, etc. I have to remember that I, too, didn’t ask if everyone is aware to be fragrance free. I have to take some of the responsibility when mistakes like this are made.

    This illness has taught me a lot and I feel that perhaps I am better understanding of others and their plights than ever before.

    Thank you for posting.

    • Thanks so much for adding your insights. I agree in taking some responsibility in things. Its so easy to blame others when there’s an error but its so important to look for ways to improve the whole situation. Thanks for reading 🙂

  2. What an excellent post. It came at a time when I needed to read it, too. Thanks.

    • Thanks for putting a link in your blog to my entry. I’m glad what I’ve written was meaningful to someone other then myself. 🙂

  3. Thank you for writing this. My huz sent me to this post and it really brought a tear to my eye . I’m struggling with that compassionate part. Also, with flexibility. And also the rose-smelling part. You let me know that we can probably get there, even with our LIttle Guy and all his many triggers.

    • Thanks for taking a minute to read and comment. I’m so glad it was helpful. Please stop back from time to time.

  4. Yet another inspiring post. You’ve inspired me to write something similar. There have been so many moments that my son has made my heart absolutely melt, both in his bravery, compassion and understanding and also in his diligence to remind me to double check something for him. Oh, I can so relate, fellow Mama.

    • Its amazing how much our little ones can teach us. I’m a better person because of my kids.

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