Forgiving Yourself In The World Of Food Allergies
Regardless of your set of beliefs, religious or otherwise, I think it's safe to say that the holiday season is a period of reflection for a majority of people. It's a time when we gather around family and decorate our homes with symbols of love, peace and joy. We reflect on the year that's past and look forward to what's possible in the new year ahead. And, for many of us, we think about how we can do life better - how we can show kindness, forgive those around us and nurture healthier relationships. But, here's the thing: when it comes to extending that same love, grace and forgiveness to ourselves, oh, that's a whole other story.
You see, as food allergy parents, we spend our lives hyper-focused on our child's safety. We read every label, wash our hands 15 times during the preparation of a single meal to ensure there is no cross-contamination of allergens in our child's food, call ahead to restaurants, chaperon field trips, stay up until 1 a.m. baking safe treats so our child can fully participate in the class party... the list goes on and on. But, even with all of that forethought, accidents happen. We mess up. Whether it's simply not preparing well enough and our child ends up eating potato chips for dinner while the rest of the family is enjoying a 5-course meal, or - even worse - something slips through the cracks that causes our child to have an allergic reaction, we MUST give ourselves grace. We must forgive ourselves for not being perfect.
As author and research professor Brene' Brown says, "Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we are all in this together." And, let me tell you something, fellow food allergy moms and dads, we are in this together. We've all been there. We've all fallen short because we are all human beings. And, there is not a single person on the planet earth that gets it right every time. Despite our love for our children and our daily vigilance, we must remember that there are times when improvisation is going to be the best that we can do. And, when a reaction occurs on our watches, we must regroup, reset and look forward. Beating ourselves up is not a useful exercise, as it doesn't change what has happened or improve our circumstances in the aftermath. The only thing that we can do that is useful or will promote healing is to forgive ourselves. Do I have this self-forgiveness thing down? I most certainly do not, but I'm a work in progress.
So, the next time you feel like you've let your allergy kid down, when you could have done better, please take a minute to be kind to yourself. Assure your kids that everyone makes mistakes - even mom and dad - but, that you love them more than they'll ever know. And, promise that you will always go to the ends of the earth to protect both their bodies and their hearts. Because that's what food allergy parents do.