Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Finding Solutions to Life with Food Allergies
I never knew I could hurt without having anything wrong with me. I never truly understood the saying, "it broke my heart". I never fully understood wanting to take on another persons pain for them. Sure, I have compassion for others. I empathize when others are sad, I have felt grief through a loss. But when my child hurts, it is like nothing I have felt before. Before I worry folks, everybody is OK here. Everybody is healthy and enjoying the rest of summer. The pain I felt came on the eve of my beautiful daughters 7th birthday. She was lying in bed with me, and we were talking about all the very cool things a 7 year old gets to do. We were discussing birthday present wishes and parties at the lake. We said our bedtime prayer and after we finished, she looked at me with her beautiful eyes and said the words that made my heart hurt to the core. She looked at me and said, "Mommy, when I turn 7, me don't want allergies anymore." I looked at her while taking in a shaky, hold in your tears kind of breath and watched as a tear ran down her cheek. I said a silent prayer for help because I didn't have the words to make this better.
Lily Rose has never seemed to resent her food allergies, she doesn't remember life without food allergies. We have been very intentional in staying positive about food. I have taken a proactive approach in finding foods that are healthy and fun to eat, not just for her but for our entire family. When folks give her that sad look, we are quick to correct them that she can eat so many wonderful foods, that they might just be different than what is on their plate. We have also been proactive in making sure Lily Rose understands that she can only eat her "safe foods".
I don't know where her plea came from. I suppose it was only a matter of time before she wished for things to be different. Maybe she recognized the extra work safe foods can be when traveling and at other peoples homes. Maybe she just got sick and tired of me saying, "I'm sorry, it is not allergy safe." It doesn't matter where it came from, I just had to find a way to turn it around. I told her that her allergies and celiac won't just go away, that just isn't how it works. I told her how sorry I was that she was sad. I told her how happy I was that we know what she can't have and know what she can have, because that keeps her healthy. I told her how much we all love her. I held her for a moment and kissed her head. I took a deep breath and told her I had an idea. She perked up and excitedly asked what? I said that when we returned home, the two of us would come up with new recipes and find some new foods to eat. We talked about what we could plant in the fall garden and what we could fix with it. We are home now and that is exactly what we have been doing. Lily Rose loves to cook and she loves to eat. We have some good ideas going and we will share later how some of them turn out.
I am looking at this as a learning experience. I would take her food allergies away from her in a second if I could, but I can't. I would take them on myself if it worked that way, but it doesn't. I am sure that this won't be the last go around she has while she grows up with what are dangers (unsafe foods) all around her. But I don't want her to look at food as the enemy. I want her to know her body and the limitations that are there and that are there for all of us in one form or fashion. I want her to accept the things she cannot change and change the things she can. I want her to know that God created her for a purpose and know how much our heavenly Father loves her. I also want her to know how much her Daddy and I love her; part of the way I can do that is to help her when she needs help.
I know that there are parents out there who are dealing with things so much harder than food allergies. There are too many children cancer centers and hospitals. So many of those parents have wiped the tears of a child facing great sickness and so many have felt the unimaginable pain of loosing a child. I pray for these parents and when I do I am so grateful that our cross is "just food". How many would give their right arm to only have food allergies. I am so thankful to have my daughter in the time of epi pens and Er's and knowledge of food allergies. What a blessing that is. I thought of that blessing after giving her an epi pen shot in the thigh when she couldn't catch her breath after breathing in an allergen this past Christmas season. Yes, this burden is small compared to some, but it is the cross she bears. It is one that we will continue to learn from. And that night, it was the cause of her tear.
She is excited to try new things and is loving coming up with new recipes. She is especially looking forward to her special birthday party treat this coming weekend. Her tear is gone, but not before leaving a stain on my heart. That stain will be a reminder of the blessings in my life and the blessing of my children who have been entrusted to our care. The stain will be a reminder to remember and to pray for the parents whose stain runs much deeper than mine. My stain will be one of many that comes from being a parent. Oh, but the joy they give me.