Becoming an allergy mom is like joining a secret society that no one actually wants to be a part of. From the outside looking in, I know I seem to be like the crazy overbearing, overprotective mom that reads every label before giving something to my kids, who washes their hands every time we get back in the vehicle from grocery shopping, who turns down birthday invitations because I’m terrified that my child will come into contact with peanuts. I don’t want to be this person, but at the end of the day my main goal is to ensure that my son remains reaction free.
When my son was diagnosed at 18 months with a severe and life-threatening peanut allergy I had no idea what to expect; ok don’t feed him peanuts or anything that contains peanuts, easy right? However, when you start to read the labels on products at grocery stores you begin to realize that the choices become very limited especially when you take into consideration cross-contact and foods that are prepared on shared lines with things that contain peanuts. Even things that may not cross your mind contain may contain peanuts such as pet food and even some medications - what is a mom to do? I spend a great deal of time avoiding, avoiding foods and situations that could potentially lead to an anaphylactic reaction.
Before taking my kids to a new place or purchasing a new food that doesn’t declare itself to be peanut free, I always ask myself
“Is it worth it?”
“Is it worth watching my son turn blue because he can’t breath?”
For that reason and that reason alone, the answer has almost always been a resounding NO. It’s also the reason I have lost some friends during this life transition but in the process, I have also met some amazing people that have been so kind and understanding of our lifestyle and our family’s allergies; these are the type of people I cherish and will hold on to.
I know that the world is not peanut free and I need to properly prepare my son to be able to handle life safely, with as little anxiety about his allergies as possible - I’ll just keep that all for myself! As my children grow up I do find myself becoming more comfortable expanding my comfort zone a little to include restaurant visits, movies and even a birthday party or two. I always contact the venue ahead of time to ensure they are able to accommodate allergies, make sure I have the address to the closest hospital, tons of extra safe snacks and of course I never leave home without my son’s EpiPens and allergy plan. Needless to say packing light is something my family never seems to be able to do.
"Becoming an allergy mom is like joining a secret society that no one
actually wants to be a part of"
Raising children with allergies is definitely a handful but it warms my heart to hear my son’s twin sister ask if something is peanut free before eating it. I am raising tolerant, kind children that will be one day be able to help this allergy mama spread the word about food allergies and maybe someday together we can end the stigma.
Heather Delaney, is a mom of three, former business owner of Little Pine Boutique and blogger for Mama Knows Allergies