Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bad Mother

I never wanted to be this type of mother. I never wanted to be so zealous and pre-occupied with my child's condition that I frequently commandeered conversations and unwittingly flew off the handle over the small injustices of this way of life. This food allergy life that sometimes feels as if it has us all hostage. I try to stop myself when I feel the pitch of my voice raising, or notice the slightly reclined posture of the person I'm talking to. Maybe I should get away from this crazy lady before my kids catch food allergies too. They never say it, but its sometimes reflected in the glazed look that covers their eyes when I've gone on too long.

But the other side of me thinks I should have every right to wail and stomp and shout at the top of my lungs. I should also have a free license to stay home under the covers too, in the wonderful hermetically controlled environment I have so obsessively lovingly created for my son so he can eat whatever he picks up without fear.

Who am I kidding?

Lots of mothers face this same struggle, if not with allergies than with some other obstacle they're confined to the sidelines to watch play out on their children. Helplessness. I'm sure every mother loathes the mere thought of the world as I do. And I'm sure we'll all be mourning on some level for the rest of our lives over what our kids could've had had they not been gifted with their own particular challenge. I guess that puts me at stage 3 and 4 of the 7 levels of grief.

But what makes it harder is the perceived level of inconsiderateness that is all around me. Something I couldn't even name until I read this article and it put words to those misty intangible monsters that pervaded my thoughts at night when I should be sleeping.

"But sadly, allergy is still not accorded the attention and priority that it needs.
Why? Perhaps it is because allergy seldom kills or maims. Yes, life does go on for allergy sufferers, but unless you have an allergy yourself or live with someone who has it, you will never fully understand the impact of allergy on the quality of life. The physical suffering, the mental torment, the emotional struggles, the financial strain and the endless limitations in many aspects of life, ranging from food to sports or vacation to vocation.

In a nutshell, allergy rarely kills but often steals your zest for life."

The last line seems to sum it up the best. Scootch's food allergy is a theif. It has stolen the joy out of food for me. It has complicated that simple joy of giving nourishment to my children, something that had seemed so easy and pleasant when I nursed them and revelled in how plump and pink and rosy they became from relying solely on me for their food. It has taken away the satisfaction of experimenting with foods and recipies. Of baking. Or treating them with a free cookie from the grocery store while I shopped. It has zapped the anticipation out of upcoming birthday parties. Of looking forward to meeting up with friends, or enjoying a family dinner at a restaurant. Now I'm constantly aware that its inconvenient for any of our friends to try and celebrate or dine with us, as it requires prep work, and questions, and special requests.

But here we are. And we are blessed that our friends and family try to understand and help as much as they do. I feel loved when I get text messages from people who see a cookbook for kids with food allergies, or email me a recipe so I can still indulge my kids with cookies and milk at 11am on a Friday if I feel like it. That noone complains out loud when we're meeting up at the same 3 restaurants because they're the most allergy friendly.

And finally, this, which gives me hope; "The art of living lies less in eliminating our troubles than in growing with them." (Bernard M. Baruch).

I never wanted to be this type of mother. Maybe I'll grow out of it.