Confessions of an allergy mom

Posted on: January 31, 2016


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Sometimes I wish I could sit all my friends down in a big auditorium somewhere and do a presentation for them on food allergies. I want them to understand why I do what I do to keep my son safe; why I make the requests I do when it comes to food at gatherings and parties; that I’m not being dramatic and overreacting like they sometimes think I am. I just want them to understand…

Recently I was at a gathering of friends and we all brought food to share. These friends know my son has life threatening food allergies. THEY KNOW. In fact, the friend who hosted the gathering asked everyone not to bring foods that contained or where processed in a facility with Giovanni’s allergens. And yet…There I stood looking at a package of store bought cookies and saw it, “Made in a facility that processes tree nuts.” Instinctively I made a slight, “Oh man.” Friend one asked me what was going on so I explained. But then I said, “I can just ask everyone to wash their kids hands if they have a cookie.” I know someone paid for those and brought them to share and I didn’t want to just demand they be removed. I wanted to be reasonable about it. However, friend two then responded, “I’m not responsible for what my kids do.” At that moment my jaw dropped and I was speechless. My first thought was, “You’re telling me you can’t simply wash your kids hands if he eats a cookie? It’s not hard to do and it’ll keep my son safe.” Of course, that’s not what I said because I didn’t want to start an argument. I didn’t even know how to respond to what seemed like such an insensitive comment to me. In the end she ended up saying she’d rather the cookies just be out of sight so she didn’t have to worry about it. So the cookies were taken away and no one ate them.

This kind of situation happens quite frequently and it is SO VERY FRUSTRATING. I try to be understanding because I realize that if you don’t have to deal with food allergies yourself, you won’t understand all that it entails and how serious they are. I know because I used to be on that side of the fence. But at the same time, I wish my friends would make more of an effort to understand my side of things. I wish they could realize that Giovanni won’t just get hives if he ingests these foods, he could have a severe reaction and possibly die.

Thankfully not all of my friends are like this. As I said, friend one asked everyone not to bring foods with Giovanni’s allergens to her house. And I’m very grateful for that. So very grateful! But, I wish that everyone else could just put themselves in my shoes for a moment. I want them to imagine it was their child and how they would feel if they saw their son or daughter’s body covered in hives, swollen, and their child vomiting and struggling to breathe. This is what I’ve experienced. This is what I try to make sure doesn’t happen to my son again. I want my friends to imagine how they would feel if that happened to their child. Wouldn’t they do anything to protect their child and keep them safe? Wouldn’t they do all they could to prevent that from happening to their child? Of course they would! That’s what all parents do.

So why then is it so hard for some people to try and understand? Why is it hard to wash your child’s hands after they eat a cookie that could potentially harm my son? Why then do they make it seem like I’m being unreasonable.

I just wish there was a way to make everyone understand…

10 Responses to "Confessions of an allergy mom"

I can’t begin to imagine the stress and worry you must endure to keep your boy safe. In a world where the most innocent thing—cookies, for example—can threaten his life, it must be very difficult.

It is so hard, isn’t it? My oldest is allergic to peanuts, cashews, wheat, soy, and eggs. Oy. Thankfully, the only life threatening ones are peanuts and cashews, though cashews are the worst of the worst for him. I make sure everyone knows about the peanuts, but thankfully my son is now 10, so he is able to be careful for himself. I don’t expect anyone else to know how to shop for such drastic allergies, so we pack his own food. And yes, he has had a reaction from sitting next to a kid eating a peanut butter sandwich before, at preschool. Thankfully, as kids get older they don’t naturally wipe their food all over their shirts, so I don’t have to watch out for that anymore either. And thankfully, I have found that the processed on rather than containing ingredients, don’t hurt him at all, and surely have such small traces that second hand contact won’t cause a reaction. I hope that you can find a way to make it work for you too. It is so hard to be the allergy mom. People really don’t get it.

Yes, exactly! Since my son is only five he can’t manage it on his own yet. I do the same thing that you do and bring food for him everywhere. Definitely hard being an allergy mom.

We don’t have any allergies, but I try to be so cognizant, particularly of peanut allergies, making my children clean their hands after eating before going back to the playground so they don’t spread any peanuts. My heart goes out to you, Momma!

Thank you! I very much appreciate parents like you who try to be so aware.

i think most people have the perception that allergies just cause a rash. For most they do not understand that it can literally cause you to stop breathing! I think they also don’t understand that it doesn’t have to be consumed in order to have a reaction, the smell on someone breathe who just ate peanut butter can send an anaphylaxis reaction! It boils down t education and whether or not the other parents are willing to understand. It’s hard. Hang in there momma! you are doing what is best for your son, and no one can blame you for that, no matter how hard they try.

Yes! That’s exactly it!
Thanks April!

My daughter has about 10 food allergies which have pretty much all shown to be anaphylactic.
I can’t believe that mom said she “wasn’t responsible for what her children did”. I just can’t wrap my mind around it: yes you are! No matter what we are talking about, if your child is a minor and you are his mother and are breathing and have a pulse, you are most definitely responsible for what he does. Anyway… it’s an uphill battle isn’t it…

I agree with you. And, yes, it is definitely an uphill battle!

[…] you know, my oldest son has food allergies. In an effort to raise more awareness about food allergies and food allergy bullying, I wrote a […]

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