If moms whose children have an honest-to-god food allergy, one that could literally end their life, endure criticism and eye-rolling, you can only imagine the smack being laid down on moms with kids who suffer from food intolerances.
What are food intolerances? That is the first question I face when I make it clear that I am serious, my kid is ONLY eating the “healthy” (a label not stamped assigned by me) cupcakes that I brought.
As I try to explain the hell that will be unleashed on this sweet little princess birthday party if my daughter has so much as a finger swipe of that bright red frosting, I can already see it, the slight cock of the head, the half eyebrow raise accompanied by the confused-appeasing-smile — the dreaded mother mocking!
The-mom-of-the-year that I’m talking to takes one look at my perfectly composed little one and says, “Oh, come on! Let the poor kid have a piece of this multi-colored-store-bought-crap-cake! You don’t want her to feel left out, do you?”
Do I want my kid to feel left out? Hell no! No mother wants that. But, I am pretty damn sure that once she starts screeching at Cinderella and dragging Ariel down the hall by the hair, she will be pretty left out — like permanently.
Yet… for just a split second I entertain the idea of saying, “Game on! Let’s teach this doubter a thing or two about food intolerances.”
I drift into a fantasy where her perfect-princess’s party turns into a scene of wreckage and chaos and mom-of-the-year grasps my arms and says, “I’m so sorry! I should never have mocked your perceived over-parenting in that supremely infuriating passive/aggressive way. Now, for the sake of all things pink please cage that monster!”
Like all good fantasies, this one comes to an end as I remind myself that:
- I am supposed to be an adult – ahem.
- It is my job, no matter how much criticism I endure, to do what’s best for MY kid.
- Food reactions can last for days… long, brutal days.
- This would surely be the last birthday party my daughter ever attended.
So, trying to live up to point number one, I put on my best we-both-know-this-is-a-fake-smile and try to say something snarky, except I suck at snarky so I start wishing my husband was there to put this bitch in her place. So much for being an adult.
Here’s the truth about food intolerances. Clearly, not everyone has them, and most people who do have them, have no idea. Many children suffer from intolerances to dairy, gluten, corn, soy, and artificial everythings (flavors, colorings, additives, all the non-food items that find their way into LOTS of our food!), but if they don’t have diarrhea, skin rashes, or some other obvious physical sign, no one seems to notice.
Hell, my child HAD skin rashes, diarrhea, difficulty falling and staying asleep, not to mention a SLEW of behavioral issues, and our pediatrician did.not.say.a.thing! Nothing! Why? Because even though he himself followed a strict diet, he insisted that diet had nothing to do with her difficulties. He scoffed when I brought up the term, “food intolerance.” If it doesn’t show up on an allergy test, to many in the medical field, it doesn’t exist.
Guess what? He was wrong. So very wrong. Our kid was going haywire and we knew there was something causing it. We knew because there would be these unexplained, glorious, yet heart wrenching moments when we would see the “real her.” When whatever it was that had a hold on her released its grasp for a moment, and we could see her, the child we had known for the first 18 months of her life.
But, like the vast majority of people back then, we were clueless about the nitty gritty of food ingredients. We also knew that we actually ate pretty well. We weren’t fast food eaters or corner cutters. We loved making elaborate meals from scratch and home baked goodies. What we didn’t know was that this was only half the battle. So many of our every day ingredients contained the things that we later found were triggers for our child.
By later, I mean years later. It took us a solid three years, a late night stumble upon the Feingold Association (a savior of an organization dedicated to helping families discover and deal with food intolerances. Love you, Feingold!), a few naturopaths, a rock star homeopath, and lots and lots of research, trial and error, food/behavior journals, and loads of tears to finally get a handle on the optimal diet for our child. And I can say without a single ounce of hesitation that it has been worth every single bit of effort!
My daughter who was once avoided by many, judged by most, and labeled by some stupid enough to do so, is now just a regular kid — a loving, thoughtful, strong, intelligent, funny, athletic, extremely well-liked, awesome kid!
So, yeah, my kid’s not going to eat your crap cake, but she doesn’t care. She knows she has something equally as delicious to enjoy, and share, that suits her needs. So patronize me, smirk at me, talk about me later to your husband. I don’t give a shit. Because doing what’s best for my child, regardless of what everyone else thinks, kinda makes me mother-of-the-fucking-year.
About the author: Jeana is a freelance writer living and loving on the beautiful island of Kaua’i. She specializes in travel writing, copywriting, blogging, email marketing, and ebook writing and publishing. You can find her at http://www.shelancewriter.com. Although her passion is writing, her greatest joy is being “mom” to four awesome kids and “honey” to one hunky hubby! All of her spare time is spent exploring and playing outdoors with her family and attempting to be “fabulous at 40”!