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The Fit and Fluffy Momma

embracing my 'fluff' while finding my 'fit'

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When everyday life feels like a death trap... raising a child with food allergies

Imagine watching your child walk along the edge of a cliff with no safety net, and onlookers don't understand why you're concerned. That's how everyday situations feel when you have a child with life-threatening food allergies. 

The events that are meant to be relaxing and enjoyable suddenly become your worst nightmare. A delicious appetizer at a party looks like a loaded and cocked 9-millimeter in a room full of innocent, clueless children. You want to interact and socialize, but you are terrorized by the thought of missing that one piece of food that might be on that toy that your child might grab the second you turn away. And all you want to do is grab them, run home, and stay where you know they are safe. 

You explain over and over and over, to new people, to the same people, and can't remember who already knows, so you find yourself repeating the same information to people who've already heard it a hundred times. You know some of them understand, and you appreciate them immensely for it. You know that some of them just don't, even if you've explained it a million times over, and it's hard to not get upset with them. Because to YOU, it is a disregard for your child's life and safety. But in reality, they may just truly not understand. 

You hear others talk about their food allergies or sensitivities that may cause a stuffy nose or a slight rash, or some other discomfort, and you realize that some people don't hear you when you say your child could actually die from eating certain foods because in their mind, food allergies are manageable.
 
It's exhausting. And it's painful -mentally, emotionally, and sometimes even physically. 
 
Special needs are isolating. It's so much safer for your child with life-threatening food allergies if you just avoid the parties. But my son loves the parties, so we go when we can. And when we do, I am the helicopter mom.
 
I am the mom who follows him from room to room. I am the mom who asks him what he ate if his hand is anywhere near his face. I am the mom who people think is crazy because I hit the panic button if my son is out of my sight for a second. I've been the mom at my daughter's dance class who everyone was staring at because my son took a cheerio from a stranger and I just about lost my mind. Ok let's be real... I flipped, the freak, out. (I think I scared that lady a little, but seriously, do NOT give food to kids you don't know without asking their parents' permission. Ever. It could be a matter of life or death. You don't want that burden.)
 
I will never judge a mom who seems like an unraveling stress bomb that appears to be flipping out on her kids for no reason... because I don't know what she's dealing with. I am at my 100% stress max, running on fumes of faith and high alert, anytime we go anywhere and have to interact with people.
 
At the grocery store, I clean the entire seat and surrounding area of the cart, and flip out if he touches the seat belt (cause you just can't clean that thing enough). At family & friends houses, I can't help but wonder if anyone ate Cheetos and if there is residue on anything he could touch. Having people over, we don't want to make anyone uncomfortable but are worried kids might have residue on their hands or clothes and get it all over our kids' toys, turning our own home into a death trap for our son. Going out to eat, which is supposed to be relaxing, turns into a big event of cleaning the entire table and booth or chairs with our own wipes (because we can't trust the restaurant towels to actually be clean), making sure we wipe our hands after everything we touch so we don't contaminate his food, and keeping our food away from his food that we bring with us since he can't eat anything from anywhere... it's quite a scene. 
 
So please know... if we don't attend a gathering, or invite you over very often, it's not because we don't like you. It's just because I am still trying to figure out how to balance safety and social interaction with my curious and overly friendly munchkin whose life is put at risk in most normal social situations. I am trying to figure out how to watch him dance along the cliff, while staying close enough to catch him if he starts to fall, without just snatching him up and holding him where I know he's safe. I am trying. He is learning. And we are taking it day by day. One day, he'll either grow out of these allergies or learn to manage them on his own. But until then, all we can do is our best and continue working on creating some sort of balance. 

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