So quite a while ago, valentines day to be exact, I had a revelation. We were at gymnastics, and a little boy came in, running enthusiastically toward my daughter with a card and candy. He was so excited to be able to give a gift to his friends, and my daughter was incredibly happy to receive her first valentine. I, on the other hand, was sitting on the bench thinking not so nice things like "Who is this lady letting her kid bring candy into a class that has never involved food?" and "Why isn't my daughters teacher taking it away?" I didn't step in, instead I listened to see what my little girl would do. She turned her big doe eyed gaze upon the teacher and asked if it was safe for her to eat. The teacher told her to bring the candy to me and let me decide. That sent my snarky mind right back into action. I was thinking, "Great, this teacher let another child give my daughter candy that she won't be able to eat, and now she is sending her over to me so she doesn't have to be the bad guy." One of my friends was sitting nearby, also listening, and asked me if she was going to be able to have the candy. I laughed out loud and exclaimed, probably not, clearly still annoyed. My daughter gets to me, shows me the candy, and it was safe. Perfectly fine for her to have.
She ran back, hugged the boy, thanked him profusely and went on enjoying class. I however, spent the rest of the class thinking I'm a crazy, rude allergy mom jerk. A quote by Peggy O'Mara came to mind.
I spent the next few days, wondering how much my attitude had already affected her. I spent so much time keeping my daughter out of situations like this because I thought I was protecting her. Now I realize I was just isolating her. Sure, she was never feeling left out, but I wasn't allowing her to completely live her life. The reality is, life has just as many disappointments as it does victories. What really matters is how you decide to view them. I don't want my daughter to grow up feeling like a victim of her allergies. I'm sure as she ages there will be some resentment issues, but I'm hoping that by having a positive attitude about everything I can, maybe she will pick it up too.
We all know that there are some situations where our kids do get left out or feel different. You can't really put a positive spin on a four year old not getting a surprise ice cream treat that all the other kids get, and it causes my heart to both ache and burst with pride when she turns down the treats that are so often offered to her at the bank and store. Not to mention the parties and family get togethers that almost always end in her saying, " I just wish I could eat the same food as everyone else." Of course I am compassionate, and let her know that I'm sorry that she can't eat all the same things as our family members or friends, but I have also set time aside to make sure she understands that every person on this earth faces challenges. She knows about diabetes and has even spoken to a child with an insulin pump. Before I decided to stay home, I worked with disabled adults so she has seen feeding tubes and seems to understand that we are all the same in that everyone has to face their own challenges.
We tell her that if she can dream something, then she can do it. We say that there is no reason to let her food allergies hold her back. I taught her at a very early age how to politely refuse food and advocate for her needs. Now I get to watch her flourish. Sometimes she dreams up things that make me nervous, but I try my best to quiet that voice in my head and let her live her dreams. I can't wait to see where the journey of life takes her.