Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I've been wanting to write an entry about friends and family and their attitutes for a while, but just haven't gotten around to it until today.

I was emailing a friend of mine whom I haven't seen in a very long time, and I was giving her excuses about just how busy I've been etc. The truth is, though, I just don't have fun hanging out with her and her kids any more. I love her! I think she's lots of fun, but I find it so exhausting visiting with her. I constantly have to watch Izzy. For whatever reason, it seems that some parents think kids need to be snacking constantly and food tents to be a big part of get togethers. My kids love food, and it's difficult to convince Izzy that she can't have something (even though I have a special treat for her), plus other kids are running around with sticky fingers grabbing toys and each other. Usually, once food comes out, I'm ready to leave.

Birthday parties are the worst! We went to one 2 weeks ago. It was a great party and I managed to keep Izzy away from the bad stuff, but then the cupcakes came out! All the little kids running around with crumbling cupcakes, smeared all over their faces and clothes. Of course, Izzy didn't think the treat I brought for her was all that exciting in the face of brightly decorated cupcakes. We left.

Here is my dilema: do I just avoid parties all together, or do I go and be the 'allergy mom'. If I don't go life would be so much easier, but then my friends would think I'm being overly dramatic (or a snob). If I do go, though, not only is it utterly exhausting for me, but I end up being the party pooper, the 'allergy police', whatever you wanna call it.

I know my friends are trying (some of them, at least!), but even the ones that put in so much effort to make a gathering allergy friendly often miss the mark. I truly appreciate the concessions they make on Izzy's account, nonetheless, sometimes I'd just rather stay home.



Mamma Sarah said...

I know what you mean about being the allergy police. We have to train our family even when they come to our house if we end up cooking "normal" food, but then make an altered version for the kiddo and myself. **sigh** It's tough for those who don't deal with this on a daily basis. Hugs to you!

Jenny said...

Hi, I found you on The Living with Food Allergies Blog Carnival. This post really hit home for me --I know how you feel. I have sometimes avoided parties of people we don't know all that well, just to avoid "allergy policing."

Still, here's how I see it: we can't help our child's condition, so don't feel guilt about any precautions you have to take when you DO attend a party. I have no shame about being the "food allergy mom." A mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do! :)

IMHO, I think our kids take their cues on how to deal with their food allergies from us. If we act like their allergies are just part of life, they come to accept that. My daughter gets a lot out of the parties she attends, and the good news is, when they get older they will know how to avoid certain foods and handling their allergies will be second nature to them. That's what I'm finding now with my 8-year-old and I expect that to grow as she gets older.

Also, I don't feel compelled to attend every party we're invited to. It just isn't feasible sometimes, and if you feel in your gut that someone just doesn't "get it," I'd go with that instinct. It's perfectly OK.

Thanks for letting me ramble! Take care, Jenny

alison said...

Great post! That is a tough one! I have done both -- I have not attended the party (especially if it was someone I didn't really know) and I have been the allergy mom. Neither one is very fun.

I also wish parents didn't feel compelled to have candy in the prize bags... my daughters are happy with little toys! I usually go through the bags at the party when they aren't looking and pull out the candy and set their bags aside. If someone didn't know what I was doing, they would think me rather strange!!

Sue said...

I so feel your pain. I cringe when we get invited to parties. I hate asking for concessions, but I also think some are just easy to do. I work so hard to accomodate all allergens at my party but start to get bitter b/c I don't get the same courtesy. Yes, dairy can be hard to avoid (for those not used to it). But pizza???

My best friend's daughters 1st b-day party is coming up in September. I'm nervous about how far she's willing to go. *sigh*

I always feel that staying home is not the answer for us b/c I want the girls to have fun. So yes, I end up being the food police and it stinks.

Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

I don't have an allergic kid--it's me who's allergic/intolerant--but we do hold most of the social gatherings we attend so that we know I'll have plenty of safe options. Breaking down in tears in front of several friends soon after my diagnosis helped with those friends; they were willing to do what it took to make me okay to eat at events they threw after that. But it is a difficult dilemma overall. Finding a support group of other moms/kids with the same restriction (people who would understand) seems like it could be a good path if you live in an area where such a thing might exist. . . .

Mamique said...

Thanks everyone for your comments! It really makes me feel better to know I'm not alone in this. I just got back from another party where the first thing we saw as we walked in were cheezies mix! The're really close friends, too!!! WTF?

I asked to mom to put away that snack and she kind of gave me 'THAT' look. There were lots of other snacks there! I only asked aobut the deadly one, sigh. I was a bit livid and told her that it's really not a big deal, we'd be happy to leave. The cheezies got put away.

Guess what cake they had for the 1 year old. ICE CREAM! We left when that came out. Close friends my ass.

Sorry, had to vent, lol.

c.m. said...

I'm so TOTALLY with you on this!!! 2 of my 3 kids have life threatening food allergies and not to the same foods (9 year old: all nuts and soy, 2 year old: dairy, eggs, all nuts). We're always dodging some bullet. Prior to my son's arrival, we went out quite often with our daughter and it did get easier as she got older. But with our little guy, I finally admitted to myself that going to social events is no fun for me any longer -- I'm usually near tears by the ride home from anxiety and frustration. Lately we accept invitations *very* judiciously.

People just don't get it -- and before I had FA kids, I did not get it either. What's more, people always seem to want to make things better by offering up more and more food! Such as the girl scout leader who, when the cookies the other girls were decorating/scarfing down turned out to be unsafe, offered my daughter a can of frosting and a spoon. (BLECHH) Or the family friend who, upon realizing that my dairy allergic son couldn't have ice cream, suggested yogurt instead. PLEASE. Make it stop!!! My kid is NOT EVEN HUNGRY and now you are making them feel BAD.

Ahh, just venting.

So I've adopted a one-day -at-a-time, one invite at a time policy. It feels better than dodging every single bullet. And for the immediate future --- thanksgiving is at OUR house!

Good luck to everyone, it is NOT easy and you are not alone.

mama jess said...

other people don't understand. not even your own relatives. your friends won't get it either unless they visit you in the hospital after a serious episode. been there.
just keep your sense of humor. never trust your friends, family, restaurants or supermarkets when they make food. YOU must know what ingredients are in the food you are serving your child. Once, my friend made an apple pie for Sage after reviewing safe ingredients with me. that's a friend.
For parties: watch your kid, bring your own food, bring your epi-pen, smile, relax and advocate. Do not ask for anything special. don't ask what will be served. remind the host if your child has a potentialy deadly allergy. leave if they are serving the potentially deadly allergen. Say, Thanks for the lovely party and slip out. Don't get mad. they just don't get it. hope this helps.