Dear Class Parents,
I am writing in the hopes of a healthy, positive start to the school year. I realize that once you receive the informative letter from this year’s teacher regarding my child’s life-threatening food allergies your hopes for a fun-filled school year will seemingly slip away in your mind. You will mourn the loss of parties that include cookies, cupcakes, and other favorite celebration items. You will undoubtedly become frustrated by the lack of opportunity to pack a quick peanut butter sandwich for lunch or grab the easily accessible peanut butter crackers for snack. I realize the inconvenience this causes to your regular routine, but I do not apologize for your need to accommodate my child.
You see, I also long for the ability to pack a quick peanut butter sandwich or grab the same package of peanut butter crackers your child enjoys. I mourn the days of lost birthday party celebrations and the ability to have my child feel like everyone else when the time comes for class parties. I yearn for a day when planning a birthday party doesn’t cause anxiety over finding a venue that will accommodate our needs and allow for my child to feel like a kid who has normal birthday parties like his peers. I wish my young child never had to stop and think "is this a safe treat?" or monitor his surroundings in a manner that takes away from the childhood nature of the activity.
While my tough exterior may have you believing that I am comfortable being labeled a ‘crazy allergy mom’ or an ‘overprotective parent’ the reality is I struggle with each and every birthday invite, plans for school functions, or holiday activity. I would rather stay in the comforts of my own home where allergens are not present and I do not have to navigate awkward conversations about my child’s food allergies while keeping an eye on his well-being at the same time. I am exhausted by efforts to manage my own anxiety for these situations in a way that doesn’t transfer these emotions to my child.
I don’t expect for you to understand what it feels like to see your child have difficulty breathing or break out in hives because of eating an allergen. I don’t expect for you to worry about my child the way that I do; however, I know that you understand what it feels like to do everything in your power to keep your child safe. I know that you can empathize with the desire for my child to feel normal and be included with the rest of the class in celebrations and activities. As parents we all share these hopes and wishes for our children and are working to the best of our abilities to make them happen. We really are more alike than you might think. We are all parents striving to raise strong, healthy children who have memorable childhood moments along the way.
Therefore, when you receive this year’s letter regarding the child with food allergies in the classroom please know that I am struggling with the information included just as much as you. Know that I am just another parent, like you, trying to do the best I can for my child and that I also want this year to be the very best yet.
Your Food-Allergic Parent