My heart is broken today. Sometimes I feel like my heart breaks so far apart I may not be able to put it back together again. Sometimes it hurts so much, I don't want to put the pieces back together. Sometimes I wonder if this is just how life will always be with food allergies? But, I was given some wise advice: Be the person you needed when you were younger. So, that's what I'm going to be right now. I'm going to be honest + lay my heart out here for all the internet to see. Because these are the words I needed to hear two years ago. Honesty, I still need to hear them today.
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you -Maya Angelou. I realize that some people in my life may think it revolves around food allergies. But, honestly, I hold the pain + sadness in so tight that it hurts. I try to bear the pain + responsibility of managing a child with life threatening allergies. But, days like today, I just can't carry that load anymore. It's like I walk around with a plastic bag over my head + I'm getting just enough oxygen to survive, but sometimes that bag gets really tight + I start to suffocate. That's today.
My middle son, Bowan, has multiple life threatening food allergies. We get by + we deal with them. But, it's hard. Sometimes it's just completely overwhelming. What always overwhelms me the most is when he has an allergic reaction in my own kitchen. Our house is supposed to be a safe space. Our happy place. A place where my three kids are loved, encouraged + feel safe. But, there have been times when I've unknowingly bought, stored + fed my son foods that could kill him. I know I sound so overly dramatic. But, this needs to be said for my fellow allergy moms. This is the reality we face. This is what I needed to relate to two years ago. I still need to relate to other moms that struggle with the same complex issues of life with food allergies as I do.
Back to the feeling judged piece that my life revolves around food allergies... Feeding kids? It's a lot of work right? I mean, even for the family with no food restrictions, it can feel all-consuming at times. There's the grocery shopping. Researching prices or couponing. Spending time to shop, or ordering online. Either meal-planning or winging it. Then there's the snacks. I mean, that can feel like all day, everyday. There's the messes. I've never met a kid that can eat without making a mess. Have you?! The non-messy eaters I know don't make messes because the mom's spend time to feed them + make sure the food ends up in their mouths. My point is as moms, food is a huge part of our lives wether we like it or not.
So, food is a big part of motherhood. But, no one really talks about this. The responsibilities relating to food are high. But, what about trying to feed one child one food + the other a different, allergenic food? What about preparing a safe + an unsafe food? To me, it's like having a loaded gun in the house. Not just in the house, but on the kitchen table, or on your child's hands, or spilled all over the floor, or wiped all over the wall, or all over your non-allergic child's face. I just can't live that way. It sucks all the joy out of motherhood, out of my life. Maybe this will be easier when my kids are older, but I'm not going to spend my days wishing their childhood away. This is a complexity of mothering a child with food allergies. Some families may be able to graciously navigate this complexity of safe + unsafe food, but I just can't do it. Honestly, I don't want to think this hard about every move I make in my own house. Living with only safe foods in our house brings a sense of normalcy to me. I love that little bit of peace. It's a ray of sunshine to me.
Thank you for taking a peek into my heart + kitchen + our life with food allergies. We all face challenges + difficulties + hardships. But, I think we really do each other a disservice when we don't share them. I hope that by sharing this small piece of my story, that your difficulties feel a little more validated + seen. It's hard for me to walk around with a plastic bag over my head + I don't want you to be doing that, too.
Having courage does not mean that we are unafraid. Having courage + showing courage mean we face our fears. We are able to say, I have fallen, but I will get up. -Maya Angelou
Photography by: // Kathleen Peachey Colorado + Worldwide