Embracing Your Spidey-Sense: Yes, Food Allergy Parents, You Have One!
If you ask any of my family members or close friends about my ability to make swift decisions, they would probably laugh out loud. I am notoriously the world's WORST decision maker. From what to make for dinner, to how to navigate awkward situations that my kids get into, I regularly feel crippled by my indecisiveness. My husband Brian refers to it as "paralysis by analysis,"and it's a perfect description of how I feel inside when I'm faced with choices, both big and small. But, it's so interesting... when it comes to my boys' allergies, I don't have this problem. It may be the only arena in my life where I have a wicked quick ability to discern and act. I call it my "spidey sense," and you have it, too, fellow food allergy moms and dads.
You all know what I'm talking about. It's that little ping in the pit of your stomach when something is just not right. Maybe it hits you when talk to a restaurant manager about your kid's allergies, and he assures you that he understands the dangers of cross-contamination, but your gut is telling you something quite the opposite? Or, how about the time you go to drop your child off at a playdate or camp, and the adults in charge just seem a tad too quick to assure you that they've "got this," when in your heart, something is telling you that they really don't? THAT is your spidey sense! Some may call it intuition, I think it's God's small voice in my heart; whatever you attribute it to, it's a gift and you need to trust it and act on it whenever you feel it rising up in you.
But, here's where I've run into problems. On top of being indecisive, I'm also a people-pleaser to my core. I really hate letting people down, and I will go to great lengths to avoid making waves. Can't everyone just get along? Yep, that's me. While of course there are benefits to this part of my personality, it's also my kryptonite (different superhero, I know... but stay with me). For years I struggled with worrying about what people thought when I spoke up about my kids' allergies. I've spent way too much time contemplating how I appeared to others - pushy, annoying, crazy? And, every time I do this, it interferes with my instincts. But, there's some real hard truth that brings me back every time: I've have had to put a shot in my little boy's leg because he was struggling to breathe. I've lived through the trauma of that event and its emotional impact on my entire family. IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK. If other people truly had the same perspective that I do, they'd be giving me a hug when I spoke up, not rolling their eyes. It doesn't matter if anyone else in the whole world understands or empathizes with me in those awkward moments. When my gut is screaming at me, all that matters are my little boys and their safety. Period.
So, the next time you get that feeling in the pit of your stomach... when your heart is racing and your instincts are pinging out of control, PLEASE don't ignore it. This is your gift. Learn to love this superpower that becomes ingrained in us when our children are diagnosed with their allergies. When you are tempted to remain quiet instead of speaking up, remember that YOU are your child's hero. Embrace your spidey sense, friends. And, I promise it will serve you well in your journey, 100% of the time.