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  • Writer's pictureGayle Rigione, Allergy Force

15 Ways A Food Allergy Mom Said "I Love You"


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As parents, we love each of our children unconditionally, more than life itself...


...as we nurture them and watch them grow,

...as we guide them along the way,

...as we keep them safe,

...as their personalities become, at times, bigger than they are,

...as they define and redefine themselves through their teen years,

...as they experience life's joys and persevere through setbacks,

...as they become the unique and wonderful adults they're meant to be.


My oldest child was diagnosed with multiple, severe food allergies just before he turned two — back in the late nineties, the food allergy dark ages. Valentine's Day always makes me think of the unique and special ways I've told him "I Love You" through the years.


I said "I Love You" when I...

  • Hid my tears walking out of our allergist appointment — shellshocked, a prescription for epinephrine in hand — so he wouldn't be upset by my upset.

  • Made our home a safe space for him, giving up foods his Dad and I had loved forever, for perhaps forever, or at least for as long as it took to launch him into adulthood.

  • Read countless food labels at the grocery store backwards and forwards and then again — always worrying I'd miss something important, something that could harm him — before putting a food in the shopping cart. Every. Time.

  • Always remembered his autoinjector when he was little. Helped him learn to remember it as he got older, even if it meant returning home to get it, choosing to be late with it versus at risk & vulnerable without it.

  • Cooked and baked allergen-free foods for him so he'd have delicious things to eat — a never ending 'wash-rinse-repeat' cycle of cooking and baking, baking and cooking.

  • Made sure he always had his own special frosted cupcake to eat at birthday parties because he could never eat THE cake.

  • Cried my way through my first 504 planning meeting when the school questioned my asks, then pushed back for the accommodations we needed to keep him safe and make him just 'one of the bunch.'

  • Volunteered and volunteered some more to help with events and activities, being that 'be there' mom, watching over him from nearby as I volunteered.

  • Quietly ran interference with friends' parents to understand their plans for celebrations & sleepovers so he could join in the fun with friends without fear.

  • Shared his sad over failing a long awaited Oral Food Challenge for shrimp, holding out hope for another time, another day to try again. Shared his elation at passing the Round 2 shrimp challenge, racing home to celebrate with a total shrimp fest of a dinner.

  • Had THE 'food allergy conversation' {often uncomfortable, sometimes tense, often repeated} with loved ones, acquaintances and strangers who didn't 'get food allergies, who didn't live them every day, who sometimes were dismissive of the risks and potential consequences — always tried to persevere, patiently, respectfully.

  • Taught him the important, must know things about his food allergies, like what they were (yes, the list kept changing as he grew), and how and when to use his autoinjector, where his {many} allergens could hide, the in's and out's of cross contact, and how to explain his food allergies to others.

  • Knelt by his side and talked him through using his autoinjector on himself for the first time in his life, staying focused and calm, keeping him focused and calm.

  • Let go, little by little, forcing myself to stand back as he assumed increasing responsibility for managing his own food allergies. Loving by letting go is hard, but it's all part of parenting. They will always need you. Their needs will just be different.

  • Never let food allergies define our family's lifestyle choices or our son because they're just a footnote, not a chapter, in his life.


WHAT ARE SOME SPECIAL WAYS YOU'VE SAID 'I LOVE YOU' TO YOUR CHILD WITH FOOD ALLERGIES?


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About the Author: Gayle Rigione is CEO of Allergy Force, the food allergy app. She’s also an allergy mom. She’s lived the heart stopping moments when her son ate the wrong thing, second guessed reactions and raced to the ER. These experiences inspire her to create tech tools for people with food allergies. Whatever you do, do it with a full heart. Audentes Fortuna Iuvat


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Images: Courtesy of Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash and ColoringAll.com


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