What My Kid’s Life-Threatening Food Allergy Taught Me About Living

What My Kid’s Life-Threatening Food Allergy Taught Me About Living

The most important lesson one spirited, joyful, and resilient kid taught her own mom.


By: Lorraine Allen

Before my kid was born, I was a really laid-back person. In fact, I was voted “most laid-back” in my entire high school. Enter my kid, (I call her Bonfire), whose spark and spunk lights up an entire house in seconds, who wanted to have her own apartment at the age of 2 (2!!!), and whose life is often in danger due to her many severe food allergies. Enter: Stress, Chaos, Anxiety, Terror, Sleeplessness, Hyper-vigilance. (Any and every other feeling that counters relaxation, basically.)

I found myself laughing a lot less. I needed massages and yoga to help undo some of the crippling tension in my shoulders and neck just to keep up with her. I needed to keep my kid safe all the time and still wanted to allow her to unleash her amazing energy and foster her independence. I was really stressed out and anxious a lot of the time. But, as my child grew and thrived, despite her allergies, two things happened. First, I soon started to see the thousand blessings of needing to spend all this time closely watching my little bonfire. I had no idea how beautiful and amazing it is to see a child grow. And often, her bounding joy, laughter, and energy made me completely forget WHY I needed to watch her so closely, and I found myself just marveling instead at her vitality and strength. She struggled for months to reach those monkey bars way up high until one day she got it! I was there to see it -- and to see the smile and pride on her face. That feeling outweighed all the hours I spent watching her anxiously to make sure she wasn't breaking into hives from the peanut butter sandwich eaten by the kid next to her on the slide, or from the egg in the ice cream dripping down her friends’ hands before they held her and hugged her.

More from P&G everyday: 8 Top Tips for Helping Kids With Food Allergies Thrive

But more than my own appreciation and awe at having this close time with my child, what led me to really lighten up and enjoy life – and her childhood – more fully again were her own words and her own, preschool-aged wisdom. “Everything is going to be OK, Mom,” she said to me, when she could sense my worry as I wiped her hands and face from allergens. And it was, because we had each other. And she would listen to me, really carefully, when I would explain to her what she needed to stay away from, like speeding cars, and salad dressing, and birthday cake. And she would say, quite simply, at the ripe age of 4, with all the confidence, independence, and strength in the world: “It’s fine. I GOT this, Mom. I got it!” And I knew, because I had been watching her so closely, that she was right -- I could, and should, lighten up, and focus more on fun and joy, as she did.

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Lorraine Allen is a writer, and mom and personal chef to one spunky 5-year-old girl with severe food allergies. You can enjoy their delicious recipes and follow their amusing family cooking adventures at Feeding Lina.

Image ©iStock.com/LordRunar



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