Picking Up the Pieces: A Mom’s Struggle with Food Allergies
It is the first day of Spring. While the temperature here in New Jersey is saying otherwise, there is something that compelled me to actually finish and publish this post.
Last week, after I posted a video on Instagram, Child#4 said,”Mom, I think I finally know why your videos felt weird! You sound too happy.” Both Child#2’s and #3’s faces lit up, looking like they just had an “Ah ha” moment, and then strongly agreed. A rare occurrence if they are all together.
When I asked them what they meant, they all said that my voice was too cheerful yet I look totally the opposite. It’s 7:15 in the morning, you haven’t had your coffee, you look tired and sad.
After they left for school, the words “tired’ and ‘sad’ hit a chord… big time! As a mom, I always felt that I have to look strong. I must show that every thing is okay. Reality is behind that facade, these kids can actually see right through me. Even if I don’t realize it or I simply choose not to acknowledge it at all.
There’s More to Food Allergies Than Food
Those comments stuck with me for days. I tried to brush them off but every time I try to write a blog post, I ended up with a blank page.
Finally, one day, a long time friend (we are talking about grade school here) and I got a chance to do a video chat. When she asked what I’m up to, I mentioned my blog in passing. Curious, she immediately went to my site and started to mention how she liked my color, font, layout etc.
Frankly, I was really surprised with her enthusiasm. After she clicked my about page, she asked, “Can you tell me more about your food allergy story?”
Totally off guard, I tried to use my blog pitch. That’s when I realized my lack of confidence in what I do and I know she sensed it too.
After we hung up, I took a deep breath and flashbacks began to fill my brain.
The Painful Truth
No one prepared me to be a food allergy mom. But when I first learned that I have to change our ways and diet because of the kids’ food restrictions, without even blinking, I readily put my blinders on and focused on their needs.
Like a soldier on a mission, I set aside anything me — myself, my own needs, wants and dreams because my children needed me. They needed me not only to find or make food that they can eat but most importantly to be there as they cope psychologically and emotionally.
As any caregiver does, I did my best to make things look fine even if there are times I too am hurting inside.
Without letting my kids know, I cried over pancakes because I can’t make the gluten free, allergy friendly recipe work. I cried at the grocery store because I can’t find anything to put in the cart after an hour of reading labels.
I forced myself not to cry while my son was sobbing hysterically — all because of a pizza party or an ice cream party in school that I was not informed of.
I feel hurt whenever my child goes to a party and just stares at what others are having.
Food Allergies Broke Me
It’s been over eight years since the news of food allergies changed our lives. While I can proudly say that my children are thriving in spite of their restrictions, I cannot deny the fact that food allergies broke me as a person.
It made me vulnerable, anxious, stressed, depressed, defeated, powerless.. tired and sad.
If you are new to food allergies or has been dealing with it for years and is currently feeling down, I’m telling you… It is perfect normal. Give yourself permission to acknowledge these feelings.
I’ve been there… we’ve all been there. Yes, you are not alone.
Honestly, in my experience, these feelings will never stop. It will continue to pop here and there. We’ll all reach our breaking points.
What I Learned
Just like any medical condition or catastrophe, we don’t have the ability to prevent things from occurring. We can keep asking but the answers will always be vague and uncertain.
What matters most is how we pick up these broken pieces, embrace them and create something good out of them.
After years of managing my children’s allergies, I no longer ask why my kids or me. Rather, I’m here to share our story and maybe.. just maybe I can help you and your children thrive in this situation too.
About that tired and sad comment… well, I admit I was indeed feeling those at that time. But I choose to be happy that morning. The transition is not instant but a slow moving process. I mean there’s so much to celebrate that day too like them having a full hot breakfast and not being late for school. Heck! I even had time to post a short video and it was not even 7:30 in the morning.
Now, with that voice though… maybe a few more (tons) of practice might do. In the mean time.. you all be patient with me okay. I’m also a work in progress.