Most days, we don’t feel like we are any different. We get up, get dressed, and brush our teeth like everyone else. But then there are other days… The ones where we are invited to a birthday party or cookout and we have to spend an hour strategizing how we’re going to approach the event and if/how/when we are going to bring our son with us. He loves people and is old enough to know when he’s being left out, but he has yet to learn that putting certain food in his mouth means an automatic ambulance ride. At two years of age, he now knows that we never leave the house without “Epi.” But he doesn’t grasp exactly why.
The anxiety and worry is one thing, but the most heart-breaking thing is watching his little heart start to break when he’s excluded. We have agreed as a family to do everything we can to make him feel included, have friends, and be NORMAL (whatever that is.) We’ve learned that it’s possible – it’s just up to us to create an environment in which we can all be safe and not be total, complete party-poopers. So, we invite friends over. We cook. All the time. We go for rides through the neighborhood, have dance parties in the kitchen, and play outside as much as the oppressive Florida heat allows. When friends come over, we ask them to wash up and leave their food outside. Sure, it’s a little odd. But those who know us and know our story never hesitate.
Food allergies have impacted many aspects of our lives, but we will not let it take our spirits away. It has made us stronger as a family and bonded us together. We may not always get along perfectly (really, what family does?) but we love one another, love this life we’ve been given, and we choose to seize each and every day.
p.s. – My friend Gina Zeidler took the photos in this post. She’s not only a great person but an amazingly talented photographer. Gina, thank you for these memories!