The major bright spot of our very busy Columbus Day weekend (lots of do-it-yourself home improvements and kid events) was the fact that my daughter attended her first Girl Scout meeting at her new school and also her first birthday party of the new school year. Nobody got sick, nobody needed an Epi Pen, it was a success.
Now, to non-allergic families, the fact that their child attended a Girl Scout meeting and a birthday party without incident is probably not a big deal. But to me--and to so many of you--it is a HUGE deal. In fact, if we get through a restaurant visit, major family gathering, kids' party or any event where food is served, I'm privately relieved each time.
This weekend dealt me two big "potential food reaction" events I just mentioned above in one day. And they both went fine. In fact, when I went to pick my daughter up after each activity, I was able to observe her for a few moments without her seeing me. The big smile on her face and the other girls gathered around her told me everything I needed to know.
So even though I certainly wish that she didn't have a severe food allergy, it really has given me a new perspective. When it comes to her health, happiness and safety, I take nothing for granted. My daughter even got a kick out of the fact that the treat I sent with her (confetti cupcake with butter cream frosting) was the same as what the other kids were served. That kind of "treats serendipity" doesn't often happen, but when it does, it gives us both a boost.
And for those of you with very young kids, let me tell you--birthday parties do get easier! My daughter is very aware of what she can and can't have. The other kids are, too. In fact, the birthday girl informed her Mom of my daughter's allergies right when she introduced her. (I already had done this, of course, but good for her!)
Another thing to be thankful for this past weekend--worry-free dining out. My older daughter's socially-packed Friday enabled my husband and I to treat our youngest girl to dinner at a local restaurant. What a different experience!
We didn't have to ask about ingredients or wonder if her food was cross-contaminated. It is a very different and many times, liberating experience when I do any food-related activity "solo" with my younger, allergy-free child, but it is one that helps me see the other side of the coin. This lack of concern about what goes into restaurant food is the norm for non-allergic families. Having one child with allergies and the other without helps me to view the situation from both perspectives. (I'll save that complex discussion for another post!)
Bottom line: my daughter's allergy helps me be grateful for what may seem like "little things" to many people. But to those of us with food-allergic kids, the little things sure do mean a lot.