Remember reading a really good book that later turned into a movie? The book gave you all the feels and you just couldn't put it down (who cares if it cost precious sleep - you needed to find out how it ended!). Apparently, people in Hollywood felt the same way because a few months down the road they decided to make a movie about it. So, to re-live all the feels, you cleared your busy calendar, booked your babysitter, and used your entertainment budget to buy your tickets for the show.
Except, after the movie was done, you were thinking; that’s it? The movie just didn’t live up to the awesomeness of the book. You were left feeling disappointed and resentful because you were hoping for something more, and you spent all this money and time on something that didn’t give you what you wanted. It’s was a real bummer.
I often think about this scenario and wonder why the movie is never as good as the book. And I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because of EXPECTATIONS. We’ve created thoughts, pictures, and ideas in our mind about what the story should look and feel like. Except the movie directors also have their own thoughts, pictures and ideas about what THEY think the story should look and feel like. And unfortunately, because the directors are the ones making the movie, their thoughts & ideas win. We have no control over it except to either enjoy what they’ve created or continuously compare the movie to how we thought it should be.
Celebrations With Food Allergies
Which brings me back to food allergies. How does the movie scenario fit in with our lives as food allergy moms?
We all want our lives to be easier.
We all want our kids to be safe.
We all want every celebration to include our child as much as possible.
We have our hopes and dreams and ideas about how social events & celebrations SHOULD be. But unfortunately, we’re not always the "director" of the "movie". There are other directors involved who have their own hopes, dreams and ideas of how they think the celebration should be. And unfortunately, WE can’t control those directors all the time. Sometimes we have no control at all.
Sometimes because we know the directors (not like the ones in Hollywood) we may be able to give our input and share our hopes, which sometimes makes it even harder because once we give our input we EXPECT that the director will accommodate them. But we all know this doesn’t always happen. These are the times when we are forced to either enjoy what the director has created or continuously compare it to how we thought it should be.
Now, I know this isn’t easy to hear; and I’m not excusing poor judgement or plain meanness. And, I’m definitely not talking about putting our kids in harm's way. Keeping our kids safe is non-negotiable and isn’t dependent on whether someone accommodates food allergies at a celebration or not.
But, I am saying, if a “director” in your life refuses to make food allergy accommodations, make your own accommodations as needed, but still allow yourself and your family to enjoy what the “director” created instead of wishing for something you can’t change. This way we’re managing what we CAN control, which are OUR expectations. Managing OUR EXPECTATIONS of celebrations will help us decrease disappointment and resentment. It’ll keep us from bitterness and keep us in a positive mindset. Hopefully, as time goes on, that director will start making accommodations. Sometimes this happens quickly and sometimes it takes years.
So how do we manage our expectations? If you can, say YES to invites. If you don’t feel like the food environment at an event will be safe, mention it to the host, but be prepared to make your own accommodations. These accommodations might be:
Host yourself so you can provide safe food and outline expectations.
Arrive after the food has been served, or leave before it’s served.
Bring your own food.
Eat at home first.
Suggest alternative activities that don’t include food.
If you’ve got a really little one and they’re in the “mouthing & touching” stage you may need to get help watching them while at the event. Tag team with your spouse or ask a responsible teen or tween to help (paying them doesn’t hurt either!).
These food allergy struggles won’t go away, and it’s important that our kids see that they can live a full life with food allergies even when situations aren’t ideal. We need to teach them these skills so they can manage it themselves someday. Trust me, I know it isn’t easy because I struggle with it EVERY SINGLE CELEBRATION. But WE CAN DO THIS!
Let us know in the comments what you do to manage your expectations and still be social with food allergies.