It was this time of year about 2 years ago when I got sick. Spring was in the air. The warmth after a long Canadian winter was finally doing more than just tease. Our family was planning details of summer vacation and Father’s Day was on the horizon. My kids were in the home stretch of the school year. In fact, my youngest daughter was finishing grade 1. As a mom, I had looked forward to this year with anticipation. Not that I didn’t want to spend time with my kids, but given that my youngest was now in school, and I would have 7 hours each day to myself, I started to dream. I dreamt about how I could flaunt my new-found independence. Would I take on one or two projects that meant the world to me? Would I start work full-time again? Would I do Pilates at any time of the day?
But it was after almost a year of my new independence that I got Shingles. At the time, I was quite uncomfortable & embarrassed about the diagnosis. I wondered why an active, healthy thirty-something would get an illness that was usually reserved for the old and frail or those with compromised immune systems. It just didn’t make sense.
So during the 6 week painful recovery time, I had time to think about how I got to where I was. And it wasn’t until then that I realized how stressed I was. Given my new-found time, I had taken on several projects. I did a school food allergy presentation in my daughter’s grade 1 class. I took on a time-consuming volunteer position with my church. I volunteered in both my daughter’s classrooms. I was continuing a part-time bookkeeping position. And although these commitments don’t make me sound like an overscheduled crazy woman; I failed to realize how much of a toll these commitments took on me because I forgot about my MOST important job of all: BEING A FOOD ALLERGY MOM.
I certainly don’t blame food allergies for giving me Shingles, but I do think that I forgot about the effort it takes to be a food allergy mom. I simply failed to consider how much time food allergy related tasks actually take. I overbooked myself which led to increased stress and bad health.
So you might be asking, what takes so much time as a food allergy or Celiac mom? Here’s a quick run-down:
- Grocery shopping takes much longer because we have to read every label every time. Sourcing safe food is also time-consuming. Often we drive to several stores to find that one safe item.
Eating out is not easy for us. Sometimes it's easier to just cook at home. Which means more time in the kitchen for food allergy moms. If we do go out to eat, we have to research the restaurant first to make sure they can accommodate our child’s allergies.
- Social get-togethers can be time-consuming whether we are hosting or not. We are rarely able to go to any social gathering without 1-2 dishes (even a get-together that isn’t potluck). If we don’t go out, we have people over and usually, the cooking is up to us to avoid cross contact. This can be especially taxing during holiday seasons.
School food celebrations are a huge cause of stress for us, so we are usually baking for every celebration to make sure our child is safe and included.
Keeping in touch with teachers, school and coaches or leaders is required throughout the year. This ranges from emails or phone calls to extra meetings at the school.
- Kids birthday party & playdate invites can be complicated. We need to discuss diagnosis, safe food options, cross contact, label reading, emergency plan, and epinephrine use with each parent. Multiply this by several invites a year and you have a serious time hog!
Family vacations or weekends away take much more time to plan and prepare for. Researching destinations, restaurants, hotels, planning meals, safe food on flights, as well as packing food & medications is much more time consuming than normal vacation planning.
It wasn’t until I thought about my food allergy tasks in detail that I realized; I don’t have as much free time as I thought. Because my child’s safety is number one priority, food allergy tasks will always come first. If I want to be healthy and make good choices for both my child AND me, I need to keep my other obligations to a minimum.
So this Mother's Day, if you are like I was and have been failing to see the amount of work you put into food allergic & celiac living, I hope this post will shed light on everything you do. Take some time to reflect on this and celebrate it! Allow yourself grace where you need it most. Happy Mothers Day!
Have you thought about how much time food allergies or celiac take? Do you plan accordingly by decreasing commitments and sharing workloads with family members? Please comment below and take a moment to like this post using the like button; share this post with friends and family, and pin on Pinterest. Thank you for reading!