I would like to take a moment and talk about my awesome friends. So many times, I read comments online from people who don't "get it", or I see rude comments by random people out on the web, saying hurtful things about children with food allergies, but thankfully my real-world experiences have been completely different. I wanted to share some of those experiences, so that others can see that it's not all negativity and hostility out there, in the world. Sometimes, even I get caught up when I read articles about things or see people's comments at the bottom of articles and start to feel a little depressed, but then I remind myself that even though those attitudes may exist, I hardly, if ever, encounter them and have actually been extremely lucky to have been surrounded by the most wonderful, supportive people. Allow me to share some examples. (Note: I don't expect these things and haven't asked for them, which is why I am so grateful for them.)
I have friends who make sure their children don't drink cow's milk, or eat nuts before coming over and if they do, they wipe their child's face and hands. They'll sometimes even change clothes in the car, or outside, if they suspect that any allergens are present.
I have a friend who has even given her child hemp milk and will have him drink it, sometimes, on the days she comes for a visit. If they're here for a playdate that flows into lunch time, her son will eat the same allergy-friendly lunch that my daughter eats and that makes my daughter so happy. She loves to see someone eating the same foods as she is eating. I can tell because often times at dinner, she will point to our plates and say, "Daddy is eating X," and, "Mommy is eating Y" and, "I am eating Z". (Yes, sometimes all 3 of our plates differ, due to our different dietary needs.) So, when she says, "we both have the same thing!" I know she's pretty happy about it.
When we get invited to birthday parties, the moms always ask if there's anything they can do for my daughter, and I always thank them, but tell them that there's no need to make any changes, since I always bring my daughter's special cupcake/cake and they have never planned to serve nuts at their parties, so luckily that has never been an issue. They have always been so thoughtful, though, and adjust my daughter's goody bag by not putting in candy and throwing in an extra plastic toy, or something, when sometimes I even forget about that kind of thing.
The most recent Blue Ribbon Award of Excellence goes to my one friend, who wanted to include several children with various food allergies and intolerances who would be attending her daughter's party, by making a separate allergy-friendly cake! I was completely humbled and grateful to her for this immense act of kindness. We all know how stressful it is to plan your child's birthday party and not only was she doing that, but she was consulting with me, and dealing with my own fear issues over letting my daughter eat an "outside" cake for the first time in a very long time and letting me tell her things she probably already knew about cross-contamination (since she is bombarded with my Facebook posts all the time and is the biggest sweetheart and actually READS them) and doing all this extra work to bake an additional cake, which had to be made separately from the other cakes, so that my daughter and her other friends with food allergies and intolerances could be included. *sniff* Waking up the day of that party was so much less stressful. Usually, I am having to make a set of cupcakes, along with getting everything else ready and it's almost like having my own birthday party whenever I go to a birthday party (sorry, I know I should not complain, I do it for my sweet daughter with love, whenever she wants), but I am just explaining how I was free from that bit of stress that day and was able to attend as a relatively carefree guest, because my dear, sweet friend had gone to that extra trouble. She had the "safe cake" knife in a Zip Loc bag, clearly marked, she had separate plates and she set the cake up on a separate table, and the cake was decorated in the same theme as the main party cake. My daughter was so happy to see the cake! Plus, it was so yummy!
That might be the most special cake my daughter has ever had, because it was made with kindness and love, from someone who is not her parent. See, I'm her mom, I'm supposed to do things like that for her. This was purely an act of kindness and inclusion and a wonderful gift that I just can't fully express.
I know I'm gushing over this cake, but I also feel that swell of gratitude for all the daily kindnesses that my friends show me and my daughter. If you have done something for me and I did not mention it in this post, please forgive me, but it is not forgotten in my heart. I keep them in there and I bring them out whenever things seem gray or when it seems like the compassion is in short supply. That's when I reflect and remember what is real. Thank you all for being you! :)
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