Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Food Allergy Mom

5:20 AM- Wake up to get ready because being a food allergy mom means (most of the time) there are no easy pop-in-the-toaster breakfasts.

5:50 AM- Head downstairs, begin to empty the dishwasher so that you can refill it from the morning's dishes after making breakfast and safe lunches.

6:15 AM- Begin to pack your allergic son's lunch for the day. First, wipe down the counters in case there are miscellaneous crumbs that are lingering about. Wash your hands to remove the crumbs. Try to find something that is both nutritious, filling, allergy-friendly and something that my son will actually eat at school in front of his friends even if it is healthy.

6:25 AM- Start to swear under your breath because you have realized that you started to pack some homemade cookies but then realized you used almond milk in them. And, although your son is allergic to peanuts and he is ok with almonds, you still cannot pack them because he sits at a "nut-free" table in the lunchroom and that would be a huge no-no.

6:35 AM - Start breakfast..hmmmm. your son wants your faux French Toast (which is easy but not as easy as an allergy-friendly bagel). You begin to heat the pan, mix the ingredients and you also simultaneously begin to make your non-allergic daughter's breakfast as well. You are bouncy back and forth, washing your hands each time so that you do not contaminate your son's breakfast and feel guilty for sending him to the ER for the rest of your life. You begin to smell the faux French Toast burning, you flip and and hope the chocolate chips will cover the taste. Breakfast is served for the kids. Before you sit to eat, you set up the leftover rice pasta to be heated up for your son's lunch (thank God that's already cooked!!!). You sit and eat.

7:00 AM- You head everybody upstairs to get dressed, do hair and teeth, argue, and you stop several bickering sessions in between.

7:20 AM- You check to make sure your son has his lunch packed and with him, because God forbid he forgets it, then what? There is no ordering something from the school cafeteria! You remind him to put on his Medic Alert bracelet and his fanny pack with his Epipen, Bendadryl, allergy info sheet and his asthma medication inside (which you secretly hate that he has to wear a fanny pack because it is so not cool, but you as a mother will never, EVER tell your son this).

7:30 AM - Leave for school. You drive for an hour because your son's school is 1/2 an hour away and yes, he could take a bus but that would be picking him up at 6:20 AM and he's not even functional at that time yet not to mention what would happen if someone on the bus touches him with some kind of food he's allergic too or if he has a sudden flare up from pollen coming in from an open window on the bus. It happens so fast, would anyone even know what to do or how fast to do it to help him?

8:00 AM - Drop your son off at school, tell him you love him and to be safe, reminding him not to share foods, eat anything else we didn't send in, blah, blah, blah...he knows all of this because you have told him every single school day and since he was 2 not to do these things but, as a food allergy mom, it's something that we have to do to reassure ourselves that we will not get a horrible call from the school that someone gave him something and he's in the hospital or worse.

9:00 AM- Get home, clean up the dishes from the morning and begin all of your other work for the day.

11:23 AM - Get an email from a wonderful class mother who thinks that giving you 1 hour's notice about sending in class treats is oh-so easy for you.

11:24 AM- Swear at your computer as you read the last line "All of the ingredients are organic, so I hope he can eat them." scream and throw a tantrum by yourself, not knowing why people cannot understand "organic" does not mean it's non-allergic.

11:27 AM- Run downstairs and go through the cabinets to see what you can make quickly to drive back to the school so that your son will not be the only one in class not having that wonderful snack from that wonderful class mom.

11:28 AM - Have a small relief go through you as you realize there is actually leftover frosting hiding in the back of the fridge and a frozen GF PF EF DF chocolate cake that you can slice off, glob some frosting and sprinkles on and get into the car to get it there in time.

11:40 AM - Driving like a mad woman, hoping you will not get caught by the police because then your son would really not get his safe snack.

12:10 PM- Arrive at the school a few minutes early and you sit, realizing you are starving because you forgot to eat in the middle of your panic to get to the school.

12:25 PM- Go into the cafeteria and find your son. The class mom is giving out the cake and you stop her as she tries to give a piece to your son at the nut-free table. She argues with you as to why he can't have it because it's organic and she gets pissy with you because you don't agree with her. Your son is looking at you, just wanting his cake, damn it!

12:40 PM- Ask where they keep the Lysol wipes and offer to help wipe down the other tables and then get angry all over again because you are told 1) Lysol wipes are not available because the State says they are too dangerous to be out around children (which is ironic, considering what would happen if my son ate one of the treats) and 2) that they are not needed anyway since the children are sitting at a separate table and  the cafeteria does such a great job using water to wipe down the tables, thus smearing all of the cake particles everywhere before going to the nut-free table to clean it with the same rag.

12:50 PM- You leave the school, with a pounding headache because you are starving and frustrated but happy that your son is fine. You drive back home, scramble to eat something before you need to turn around and go back to pick up the kids for the end of the day.

1:35 PM- You realize that you have dinner for everyone except your son. You leave early to run to Whole Foods so that your son can eat tonight safely.

2:00 PM - Pick up your non-allergic daughter and drive to your son's school 1/2 hour away, praying the frozen food in the car does not melt.

2:50 PM -Pick up your son from school. Ask how the rest of his day went and he tells you they will be doing a project in a few weeks with a certain food that he happens to be allergic too. No comment, you know, as an allergy mom, what is going through my head at this point :)

3:20 PM- Get home, snacks for all, hand washing, more dishes, homework.

4:55 PM- Start dinner. More dishes, more hand washing, more wiping down surfaces. Stop , kiss children because they are the only reason you are not running, screaming from the house at this time.

6:00 PM - Serve dinner and as you sit, you realize that tomorrow is your day to send in some allergy-friendly supplies for your son's class because you offered at the beginning of the year to send in safe items for all so that there would Be little or no cross-contamination in class for projects.

6:25 PM- You pack the kids into the car again, whining and you want to whine too but you are not allowed to.

6:45 PM- Drive to a second store since the first store only had one of the three items that you needed.

7:25 PM- Get home, sit down to relax with the kids but you realize there are dishes from dinner....never-ending dishes since everything has to be made from scratch so that it's EF,DF,PF and NF.

8:10 PM- Get the kids upstairs, tucked in and realize your son has not taken his seasonal medication, so you both go back downstairs to take it.

8:35 PM- Sit down to watch tv for just a few minutes when your son calls you and says his chest feels just a little tight. You get his asthma inhaler, bring it to him and some water. You spend the rest of the night waking up and checking on him to make sure his breathing is not too bad and to make sure he is breathing at all.

5:20 AM - You hear the alarm go off, you are sore and exhausted but you get up. You check your son once more before you get into the shower to began another day........................................

PS- I wrote this to be comical and maybe a little eye-opening for those parents who do not understand what having a child with food allergies entails sometimes. This being said, I would not change a thing and I love both of my children so much that it hurts! As exhausted as I get, as angry as I get, I would do anything to keep them both safe, healthy and happy.


  1. It's quite an eye-opener reading about your life and thinking 'wow, that sounds really tiring' and then ting! lightbulb! it's the same as my life, now WONDER I'm tired! And you are RIGHT about the dishes, almost as bad as the constant washing!
    Pig x

  2. This story made my day! I laughed all the way through it because I have had many such days! Luckily, my sons' school is only minutes away. I learned early on to always have allergy friendly cupcakes frozen in the freezer ready for those last minute notifications of treats coming into the classroom. My hands are constantly dry...I try creaming them in the day, only to be washing it off minutes later. I make sure I slather on lots of cream before I get into bed. I like to think my dishwasher is more of a disinfectant rather than a washer...I tend to wash off all the allergens before putting them in the dishwasher for fear that they will just get baked onto the dinnerware! A little comic relief is just the ticket for my day...thank you! Susan H. @ The Food Allergy Chronicles

    1. Glad I made you laugh, I feel this helps at just the right times when you really need it.
      - Tracy