For those who don’t know me, I somehow manage to function with a low to moderate level of anxiety on a regular basis. This has been my reality for my entire life, and through the years I have found various ways to help cope, including creating situations where I can manage or minimize my stress. This sometimes means that I appear to be a bit of a control freak to those on the outside.
My main focus for my anxieties for the past 9 years has been managing my son’s food allergies. At the tender age of nine months, we discovered that he was allergic to eggs, which lead to a complete revamp to how our family ate, shopped and generally looked at food. At the age of three, after a year of eating peanuts, we discovered that he was allergic to those as well.
Ever since our initial discovery of the allergies, social gatherings of any kind have been a source for my swirling anxieties. Unless, of course, I was the one buying and preparing all the food. Even my husband and I have accidentally fed our kid things that contained egg that we missed on the ingredients list – immediate hives and an upset stomach – so how could I trust someone who doesn’t have to live with it on a daily basis to remember to read the ingredients list every.single.time? What about cross-contamination in their kitchen? What if the sugar for those cookies came from the bulk food store?
Thankfully, the egg allergy was outgrown and it is fairly easy to find nut-free snacks at grocery stores where we live, so I have become more relaxed about food. To an extent. There are now people whom I trust to cook or bake for my family – friends and family members who have proven they get how important it is to be cautious, and who don’t make me feel like a crazy person if I grill them about their ingredients.
My son is now almost 10 years old, and he is also becoming an advocate for himself – often (but not always) double-checking that the food he is being offered is safe. BUT, birthday parties are still a huge source of stress for me because of the dreaded birthday cake.
Homemade or store bought, most of the time the cake is a treat that my kid can’t partake in. Sure, I can (and have many, many times) bring him his own special cupcake, but even if he gets a yummy cupcake, it’s not the same as digging into a giant slab of the official birthday cake.
The point of this post, you wonder? Other than to share with everyone that I have my own (very real) struggles that I (usually unsuccessfully) try to hide from the rest of the world? Well, this weekend my son will be going to a birthday party and the invitation very clearly stated that the cake with be NUT FREE. My son is not the only invited guest with a nut allergy, and this seemingly small gesture from the birthday boy’s mom literally makes me tear up. As I have every time someone has gone out of their way to ensure my kid is not excluded.
These are the moments when my I feel my anxiety levels dip low, and I can just be happy for my kid that he gets to enjoy a party with his friends.