Monday, May 24, 2010

Playdates, Impressions and Following Your Heart

I am not a center of attention kind of girl - I never have been. I don't like having all eyes on me, and public speaking makes me weak in the knees. As a food allergy mom though, I can't let myself feel that way anymore. At least not when it comes to my child. One thing I've noticed while reading various message boards and blogs is that there are people who think that food allergy parents are making a big deal out of nothing - that they're just looking for attention for themselves. While I know there have been instances of disturbed people making up horrible stories about their own children, I would imagine that those types of people are a very small percentage of the population.

It amuses me that someone would think that I was using my son's allergy to direct attention towards myself. The last thing that I want is to say, "look at me!". I would be thrilled if I could go to a restaurant and not have to grill the waiter on what ingredients are in the dishes and how the food is prepared. I'd love to be able to go to a play date without having to call attention to the fact that my son will be there, and asking people to refrain from bringing nut products. But I can't. And I won't. And of course I would given anything for my child to not have a life threatening allergy. Who wouldn't?

I have chosen to skip a few play dates over the last couple of months, for no other reason than I wasn't comfortable with the setting. Either they were at someone's house where food was going to be served, or they were going to be in a food establishment where peanut butter was on the menu. I have had a couple of people tell me that I can't let his allergy keep me from social events. Yes, actually I can. It's a matter of a comfort level, and I honestly feel that being as new at this as I am, it's not unreasonable for me to choose to skip certain activities. In the future I may be more comfortable - and I hope that I am - but for now, I have to do what feels right.

I know that some people have the impression that I'm making a big deal out of something that isn't such a big deal. I may have felt the same way in my pre-food allergy life. I believe that only parents who have watched their child go into anaphylaxis over something as innocent as a bite of a peanut butter sandwich can truly understand how life changing it is. Something that you wouldn't have thought twice of before, such as a trip to a local eatery or a play date with a group of friends, suddenly becomes daunting. Risks are around every corner, and while you can't put your child into a bubble and never leave the house, picking and choosing what risks you are comfortable with is perfectly fine.

Do what feels right for you, follow your heart. Don't let the opinions of other affect the choices that you make. People may mean well, but it doesn't mean that they know what is best for you and your child.


  1. Nice post. I think it's just really hard for someone who has never dealt with our issues to understand. Even if our daughter has a reaction in front of someone, they don't really "get it." As the parent, you are the only one who can protect them and keep them safe. And it's a lot of work in a social setting, especially with kids around.

  2. It all boils down to this: We do not want to inconvenience anyone; we only want to protect our child. Great post!