Allergy parenting requires effort, practice, persistence and vigilance.
And like many parenting challenges, allergy parenting isn’t always an easy job.
Sometimes it is a lonely job – sometimes the combination of ‘what ifs’, label reading and substitute-treat-making can weigh us down and consume our thoughts and time.
But this IS a rewarding job.
A smiling child eating a nut-free cupcake with his friends at a birthday party makes that late night baking worth it.
And even the opposite – a child, disappointed they can’t enjoy a treat but safe from a life threatening reaction. Challenging, but STILL worth it. Every day our children stay safe is a reward in itself. A job well done. Prayers answered.
We are not alone in this. And, we allergy parents are not the only parents striving to keep our children safe from potential harm, whatever it may be.
Having a peanut and tree nut allergic child has opened my eyes to the great lengths those in our community will go to in order to protect just one child. Often, attention goes to those who refuse to accommodate an allergy – but in my experience those who take such a stance are few.
In reality, most people in this community strive to protect any, and every child.
In our community, examples of people who have gone above and beyond to protect our son are endless and often leave me choked up just thinking about them.Today the attention goes to those who DO extraordinary things, sometimes daily for our son and other children:
- When my mother-in-law calls me from the store to read ingredient labels and confirm what she buys is safe
- My mom often takes extra time to make homemade cobbler instead of buying a pie, even when she’s busy
- My sister does the hair of a baker and trades for magnificent, delicious, professionally made nut-free cakes
- Friends call ahead to confirm safety of snacks and meals before they come over or we go there
- Parents help their children wash their hands after they’ve eaten a snack when playing with our kids
- The preschool director and teachers enforce a nut-free food rule for the program
- Volunteers and staff from church text questions about safe snacks
- Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends have learned how to use an Epi-pen and how to read food labels
- Caregivers listen attentively and read and follow allergy action plans
- We are included time and time again, even though for many, accommodating us takes some extra effort
- Friends and neighbors check in before potlucks to tell us what they are bringing is safe for our son – and often point out items they know are not safe to keep me informed
- A neighbor and daughter with nut allergies looking out for our son, sharing their experiences, doctor recommendations and encouragement
- Last year we asked our church to pray for our son’s safety and for healing from his allergy. Our prayer note card was returned a year later, signed with dates and names of those who prayed all year long
- Restaurant managers and chefs patiently answer questions and prepare food safely for our son
- Friends and family spend time researching safe products on their own
- People graciously allow me to hang out in their kitchen, reading every food label in sight and asking 20 questions
- Members of the No Nuts Mom Group (and No Nuts Mom Group of MN) share their experiences and provide invaluable recommendations, advice, prayers, and encouragement – if you are a food allergy parent and NOT part of at least one of these groups, you should really check them out!
- A neighbor texts me from Target with a picture of a new ‘nut-free’ product
- And on…and on…
These are examples we have been TOLD about. I am certain there are efforts done silently – without recognition. People spend extra time grocery shopping, doing their own research, and asking questions on behalf of our son.
Family, friends, neighbors, children, parents, educators, church staff and more…I recognize YOUR efforts. YOUR hearts and actions demonstrate love and service to our whole family as we all work to protect children. And you do so willingly and intentionally. With joy – without expressing burden.
Often, steps taken by others to protect our son take me by surprise – unexpected gifts of protection we didn’t ask for but gratefully receive.
But mere words can not adequately express my gratitude. Most days, I find myself gratefully praying blessings over those in our life who have gone out of their way to bless us and to protect our son. Often I am at a loss for words, sitting quietly in the peace of knowing that God knows just how grateful I am even if I can’t adequately express it – grateful to others, grateful to God, grateful beyond grateful.
They say it takes a village to raise a child – it certainly takes a village to keep an allergy child safe.
To all those who keep our child safe – Thank you. Your kindness, thoughtfulness, and efforts often stop me in my tracks. I joyfully thank God for each of you. Even the tiniest gesture means the world to us. You are actively invested in our son’s well-being and your individual and collective efforts matter.
I pray for chances to bless you and your family as you have us. If your family ever faces a challenge and needs a special accommodation, we are happy and ready to help – to go above and beyond as you have for us.
I am grateful for each of you who invest in keeping our child and others in our community safe.
It does take a village.
And from where I sit, THIS village is fantastic.