Thursday, August 8

To Allergy Parents

In honour of the second anniversary of Pure and Peanut Free, I'm taking a short break from food to give credit where credit's due . . .



Dear Allergy Moms and Dads:

You are the unsung heroes of this generation!  Through your diligence and tireless self-sacrifice you are raising a generation of healthy, well-adjusted, confident food allergic children.  Children who are ready to face the world with a level head and a sense of compassion toward those who may be just a little different, a sense of compassion unseen in previous generations.

You bake cupcakes at midnight for a birthday party the next morning, just in case.  You attend countless meetings with teachers, principals, and nurses at the beginning of every new school year.  You can spell the words anaphylaxis and epinephrine without batting an eye as you fill out endless health forms, 504 plans, and allergy action plans.  You make hundreds of phone calls to hundreds of companies, demanding better ingredient labels.  You hold trembling hands and softly wipe away tears as blood is being drawn.  You rub little backs that sting from skin prick tests, until they hurt no more.  You stroke tiny heads, kiss clammy foreheads, holding them close to your heart in the middle of the night when hives mysteriously erupt.  And sometimes, late at night, you cry.  You cry out in despair.  You cry out in anger.  You cry out in fear; for what does the future hold?  Yet in the morning, you dry your eyes and put on a brave smile - for little eyes will be looking up to you today.

Don't despair, allergy parent!  It's true, when we were children no one had peanut allergies and emergency epinephrine was a thing of suspense movies.  But times have changed, and we march on.  We are raising a generation of pioneers!  I look forward to the day when my children can walk into any restaurant and be handed an allergen menu without a second glance; when nut-free caf├ęs will be found on every street corner, in every town; when all food labels will be standardized, regulated and finally trust-worthy.  We're not there yet, but look how far we've come!  All thanks to you, food allergy parent!

You are at once a bodyguard, a chef, an advocate, a nurse, a parent, and a teacher (often educating those who condescend, who are unwilling to learn or change).  You endure a myriad of eye-rolls, heartless jokes, and meddling in-laws.  Still, you hold your head high.  And because of you, our kids can look forward to a future that is bright and full of sunshine.  A future where food can once again be a source of pleasure rather than fear, and where a food allergy is no longer a source of shame.  A future of hope, where all differences are treated with educated, dignified respect.

Yes, there are days when the road seems too long, and the mountains too high, and you are ever so tired.  There are days when hope begins to fade like the last fleeting rays of the setting sun.  Be encouraged, dear food allergy parent.  The sun will rise again and shine with brilliance on a future that you helped create.  Remember, God will never give you more than you can bear.  He must think very highly of you, allergy parent!  Very highly indeed!

With love, from one food allergy parent to another,

Rebecca



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71 comments:

  1. Thank you for writing this. It really has touched my heart because everything you've mentioned is true.

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    1. Hello Courtney! Thank you for taking the time to read it. Sometime we just need to be told that we're doing a good job, that we're making a difference! Have a wonderful evening!

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  2. Really lovely. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thank you! I've been meaning to write it for a while now, and this just seemed to be the right time. Have a great day!

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    2. Thank you for writing this. Tears are streaming! So very heartfelt.

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    3. You're welcome! They are words I think we all need to hear once in a while! Have a beautiful day!

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  3. Tears rolling down my face! Thank you for sharing this heartfelt message!

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    1. Hi Summer! This time of year is so hard for everyone. We do so much for our kids, yet no one ever tells us we're doing a good job. I hope to be able to provide some encouragement. Have a wonderful evening!

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  4. Fantastic, thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thank you for visiting and taking the time to read it! I hope it was encouraging!

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  5. Oh, I cried when I read this. Finally I feel like someone completely understands the life of an allergy mom. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

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    1. Oh, Vickie, thank you for taking the time to read it! There are days when we all just need a little encouragement, especially after a tragedy in the allergy community. Sometimes we just need someone to tell us that we're making a difference. Because we are! Have a great weekend!

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  6. Soooo true! thank you for this letter. It was shared on our german facebook group (for parents of peanut allergic kids). everything you wrote struck close to home.

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    1. You're welcome! We all deserve a little encouragement from time to time! So glad to hear of your facebook group. I run a similar facebook group here in Colorado, and it's great to have that support system. Have a wonderful Sunday!
      -Rebeccax

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  7. Thank you for sharing these touching words. You'll never know how much you've touched my heart and soul.

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    1. You're welcome! And thank you for commenting! Your kind words are such an encouragement to me! I hope you have a very wonderful weekend! -Rebeccax

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  8. Rebecca,
    Thank you! I laughed and cried while reading this. You captured my life perfectly. Thank you for educating others as well as encouraging us, allergy parents, to keep going.
    Jodi

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    1. Hello Jodi! Thanks for visiting! Sometimes we feel so alone, especially at this time of year, even though there are thousands of us going through the same thing! All the best to you! -Rebeccax

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  9. Thank you for this. Just the words to fill the emotional tank as we prepare for the week-before-school-starts letters, office visits, meetings, pharmacy runs (and waits), and baking barrages. I feel recharged and encouraged to be reminded that I am not the only one doing this right now, and there is a "sisterhood" (and"brotherhood") out there who understand.

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    1. I love the idea of a "sisterhood"! This time of year is so hard, it helps to know that there are thousands of us going through the same thing! Wishing your kids a very safe and fun school year!

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  10. Thank you so much for writing this heart-felt piece for parents like us.... as there are surely many of us out here and it is comforting to know that there is a community that 'gets it'....

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    1. You're welcome, Katie. I think oftentimes we are so concerned with the child with allergies, that we forget about the emotional toll it takes on the parent! It's wonderful to know that we're not alone! BTW, I peeked at your blog. Your life in Mexico looks absolutely idyllic! Can't wait to read more about it! All the best to you! -Rebecca

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  11. Thank you! Very heart felt and true. Thank you for sharing your beautiful encouraging words. From a food allergy parent. :)

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    1. Hi Julie! Thank you for reading it! Your kind words are so inspiring! We, food allergy parents, really do form a strong community! Have a wonderful day!

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  12. Thanks Rebecca! What a beautiful letter. I have shared on my social networks.

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing it, Gina! I'm so humbled by the amount of attention it has gotten. Allergy parents oftentimes seem to get lost amid the chaos of Dr. visits, school meetings, and such. Sometimes we just need to be reminded that we are doing a good job. We are making a huge difference! All the best to you! Have a lovely day!

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  13. Wow...holding back tears...
    Thsnk you for writng this.

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    1. Thank YOU for taking the time to read it! I hope it was an encouragement! Have a wonderful day!

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  14. This letter definitely hit home for me!!! Just what I needed to hear after learning this week that my daughter's school no longer wants to accommodate her life threatening peanut allergy. =( Thanks for sharing!!!

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    1. Oh, I'm so sorry to hear about your daughter's school! Perhaps they need a gentle little reminder that it's illegal to discriminate against children with "disabilities" (though I hate calling it that!). It's so hard! Hugs to you! I hope everything works out before the start of the school year! -Rebeccax

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    2. Call the ADA hotline and report the school.

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  15. I am going to print this and keep it in my allergy folder for those times when I am overwhelmed and feeling truly hopeless. I can't thank you enough for writing this just when I need it most - prepping for my 504 this week for my 1st grade daughter who has celiac and 24 severe food allergies - as well as fighting with my mom over food issues and forbidding her from feeding my daughter from now on.. Thank you!!!

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    1. Oh, Jennifer, you're welcome! Your kind words mean so much to me! Wishing you and your beautiful family all the best as you prepare for school! 1st grade is a BIG year, (my son was a first grader last year)! I'm sorry you're having trouble with your mom. Some people really just don't get it. It's hard, but you have to do what's best for your sweet girl, and I'm sure the whole allergy community would agree that you're doing the right thing! Hugs to you! -Rebeccax

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  16. Thank you! Beautifully written. Best wishes to you and yours.

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    1. You are welcome! And thank YOU for visiting! Your words are such an inspiration to me! Have a wonderful day!

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  17. It feels good to know you are not alone

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    1. Yes, it does, Mike! I'm so grateful for our strong community of food allergy parents!

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    1. Thank you, Michele! Am I correct in assuming that you're Alexis's mom, from Sweet Alexis?! Your story is so touching! I can't imagine what it must have been like to go through that with such a tiny baby! Hugs to you! I've long been dreaming of starting a peanut/tree nut free bakery! Thank YOU for all YOU do to create safe and delicious treats for our kiddos! I've heard such amazing things about your products! Cannot wait to try them!!! All the best to you and your family! -Rebeccax

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  19. Well said, you touched on every single struggle and challenge. It helps knowing we're not battling alone. Thanks for the words of support. Soldier on brave warrior!

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    1. Thanks, Erin! Your words are so encouraging! I'm so grateful for the strong community that we, as allergy parents, make! Hope you have a wonderful Monday!

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  20. Hi Rebecca 2 of my 3 children have nut allergies amongst others you have so gracefully put into words that which I have hardly spoken. I commend you and send you and all parents and children who deal with this on a daily basis much love and light.

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    1. Thank you so much! Your kind words are so inspiring! I hope you and your kids have a wonderful and safe school year! All the best! -Rebeccax

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  21. Thank you for such a beautifully written letter and post! Sometimes, we just need to hear that we are doing a great job. Especially during back to school, when we do grease up our fingers to begin that late night baking, teacher meetings. Etc. Thank you for offering such wonderful love and support!

    And to you: bravo for being an amazing parent and friend to the rest of us...the strangers in your family.

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    1. Thank you! Your words mean so much to me! The allergy community is, indeed, like one great big family, and I'm so grateful to be part of it! Have a lovely evening and a safe school year!

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  22. Thank you for enlightening me,as a grandfather I truly realize now what my daughter is going through bringing up her two children with allergies.God Bless you all.
    Kulbir

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    1. Hello, and thank you for reading! Your daughter must be very strong! I'm so glad I could be an encouragement to you (and her)! It's wonderful when grandparents are involved in keeping food-allergic children safe. I know I am so grateful that my parents understand the severity of my kids' food allergies, and work with me to keep them safe! May God bless you, and your grandchildren!

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  23. I absolutely love this! It's so nice to know we are not alone in how we feel. It's so hard for some people to understand. It's been an exhausting week preparing everything for back to school for my 6 year old girl. We are blessed to have a great school system for her, but I always have fear. Thanks for sharing this.

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    1. I don't think the fear will ever go away, but how wonderful that your school system takes your daughter's allergies seriously! That can sometimes be very hard to find. My daughter is in a peanut/tree nut free school, that takes other allergies very seriously, as well. I drive her half-way across town to get there, but it is SO worth it! Hope your little one has a fun and safe school year!

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  24. So true! It is such a struggle to gently, but firmly inform those that help us care for our children with allergies. And there never is a moment to rest for us parents!
    Check out our website: www.littlewoodslearningcenter.com for proactive parent support and a safe, fun, place to play and learn for those little ones who happen to have allergies.
    And keep up the beautiful work you do!
    Cristina

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    1. Hello Cristina! Thank you for introducing me to your site! My kids never had trouble feeding, so I had no idea there were therapy sessions for allergic children who do! I can see how feeding anxiety could become a major issue for children with food allergies, though. What a wonderful center you have! I'm sure you have blessed many, many lives! It always inspires me when I find others who work with allergic children! So thank YOU! Have a wonderful evening!

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  25. Absolutely love this!

    Would you mind if I reposted this on my site? Linking back to you and giving you credit, of course?

    www.MyWiseMom.com

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    1. Thank you so much, Kerry! You are more than welcome to re-post it. I hope it will encourage your readers, too! Have a lovely day! -Rebecca

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  26. Beautiful. Thank you!

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read it! All the best to you!

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  27. Rebecca, thank you for writing this beautiful letter. I also have to thank my sister - who has two food allergic children - for sharing this article with me. I wish I could share your letter with the world. You have stated everything that I have always wanted to tell my sister, but I could never find the words to express myself. Your heart-felt and humbling letter says it all! It is absolutely amazing of you to take the time out to praise all the beautiful and strong people that care for children with food allergies. Thank you for being honest and thank you for, just, plain, caring.
    Sincerely,
    Keetu

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    1. Wow! Thank you so much. Your words are so inspiring! How wonderful that you and your sister are both so diligent about keeping her little ones safe! She's very lucky to have you for support, as so many allergy parents don't receive any encouragement from their families. I'm so encouraged when I hear of families coming together over food allergies! :) And what a wonderful example you must be to her children! I wish you both a very wonderful day! All the best! -Rebeccax

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  28. I've just read this sitting in hospital during a food challenge. Tears stinging my eyes. Thank you.

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    1. Those food challenges are so stressful! My daughter had her first one last fall. Wishing you all the best, and prayers for a successful challenge! Hugs to you! -Rebecca

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  29. Thank you! You managed to capture all the emotions and challenges we have faced during our daughter's journey through life!

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    1. I wish you all the best! It's a tough journey we're on, but I believe things are going to get easier!

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  30. I am the home room parent of a kindergartner, and there are three children with peanut allergies in her class. Once a month they celebrate birthdays, so I bring treats. They need to be store bought, but most labels say they are made in a facility with peanuts, (as I'm sure you all know). Even when I went to the local bakery, she said that they do their best to keep things separated but there are no guarantees.

    It breaks my heart to send different snacks for the children with allergies, so I would love any suggestions that you have on a solution. I apologize for my ignorance but what are safe treats?

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    1. Hello Emily! Thank you for being such a diligent room parent! I wish there were more parents like you who are willing to go the extra mile to keep our peanut allergic children safe. I know it's frustrating finding a safe, store bought treat, but here are a few suggestions - original Oreo cookies and golden vanilla Oreo's are safe, as are Original Rice Crispy Treats. Also, the original Chips Ahoy cookies are safe (just check the ingredient label, as they do make a peanut butter variety). Also, I've seen more and more bakery items, that come from outside bakeries, with the peanut free symbol on the package. You have to dig a little to find them, though. You can check the Snack Safely guide for other options. http://snacksafely.com/safe-snack-guide/ I hope that helps! -Rebecca

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  31. Thanks for this inspirational story Rebecca. I am looking forward for your future write ups. Amazing work. :)

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    1. Thank you, Anna! Your words are so encouraging! All the best! -Rebecca

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  32. Thank you for writing this. My son just got diagnosed with a moderate peanut allergy and I am worried about the future, but this blog really helped. I fear educating family and friends will be the most challenging part. People definitely lean toward feeling that you're being dramatic when you're just looking out for your baby.

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    1. It's so scary to receive that diagnosis! To know that a common food, that's everywhere and that children eat all the time, could kill your child is terrifying! I felt like the world was caving in on us, and all the hopes and dream I had for my daughter were shattered. But it will get easier, and the allergy community has made such amazing strides, even since my daughter was diagnosed. I have a lot of hope that in the future the world will be a very allergy friendly place. Feel free to drop me an e-mail (on the contact page) if you have any questions about living with a peanut allergy. Wishing all the best to you and your son! -Rebecca

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  33. Thank you for taking the time to write this. Your note serves as a touching reflection of what so many of us have quietly felt in our hearts. "Allergy parents" like us really do have to rise to the challenge. By the grace of God, we get it done -- a testament to the unconditional love we have for our children.

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    1. You're absolutely right, Caitlin. Allergy parents are some of the strongest people I've ever met. Thank you for your kind words! -Rebecca

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  34. Stumbled across this today and it was exactly what I needed. Just spent a lovely Christmas with a family member who told me I was over-protective and instead of trying to "control the world" I needed to feed my nut-allergy child peanuts to "teach her how to use an Epi under pressure." Standing in this food-allergy circle can be very, very lonely sometimes, so thank for the reminder that I am doing what I need to for my child and that I am not alone!

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