Do You Hesitate?

Do You Hesitate?

by Sarah Hoskinson

I am a creature of habit and routine. It simplifies life, knowing exactly what to expect each and every day. Some people may call this boring, but I call it secure and tranquil. The people who are regularly involved in my kids’ lives have at least a basic understanding of my children’s food allergies and how to handle an emergency situation. This group of people includes family, teachers and other school staff, after-school caregivers, coaches, friends’ parents, etc. Our routine is safe and predictable. 

When something new arises, such as my child going to a friend’s house for the first time, a new coach, a different event, I hesitate. I never want my kids to feel like they are missing out on something just because of their food allergies. I go out of my way to make life as “normal” as possible for them. I contact teachers/parents/coaches ahead of time to find out what kind of food will be offered so I can provide similar safe food for my child.

When something new comes up, I know I will have to give my food-allergy-parent spiel. Explain the food allergy, ask them not to feed my child, explain when and how to use the epinephrine auto-injector, write down who to call in an emergency – you know the drill. Most people look at me with fear in their eyes. I try to explain this as nonchalantly as possible while still making sure they understand the severity of the situation. Once they get past the fear, then comes the sympathy: “How difficult” or “you poor thing” and “I don’t know how you do it.” You know the comments. And I’m sure you have your typical responses too. 

Talking about and educating people about food allergies is a passion of mine. I could talk for hours on this topic. But I really only love talking about it to people who are interested in hearing and learning about it. People who have questions or approach me about it. Forcing this topic on others can be difficult. You never know how the other person will respond. Sometimes I feel like it doesn’t really sink in, while others seem to be paralyzed by fear. Sometimes I worry that I will be “ruining the fun” because my child is different. But this is our reality, and it’s a conversation that is necessary to have with each and every person who will be with my children when I (or my husband) cannot be.

When something changes from our usual routine, I pause. I take a deep breath. I know I will have to have this conversation with yet another person. Most of the time it goes smoothly. But I always wonder if, after I leave, there are comments about “that food allergy kid” or “that food allergy mom.” What’s the perception on the other end? Are we really ruining all the fun? It really doesn’t matter in the big picture. Keeping my kids safe is priority number one. But I do hesitate – for a moment. Then I get over myself and keep moving on to allow my kids to live a full and gratifying life, full of delicious, healthy, safe food, in just about any situation.

I am a wife and a mommy to four beautiful children. My two older kids have severe, life-threatening food allergies and other food sensitivities. My eldest, Bubs, is 9. He is allergic to milk, eggs, and peanuts. He also avoids gluten, soy, and artificial colors. My second child, GirlyGirl, is 8. She is allergic to peanuts and avoids milk and artificial colors. I do my best to get through each day, preparing all their food for every meal. Most of the time it isn’t fancy, but it keeps them healthy and safe. Follow our journey at Don’t Feed My Monkeys.