If Your Teachers Have Been There For Your Kids, Thank Them.
Yesterday I sat in the chapel of my kids' preschool - the place where all four of them have grown from being in diapers to ready for kindergarten - and watched my baby graduate. To say that there are a million emotions tied into this day would be a gross understatement. It's the end of an era for our family and a the true milestone for me as a mom. But, for the "allergy mom" part of me, this moment meant so much more.
You see, when my daughter Avery started preschool, she was the only kid in the house... and we didn't know life with food allergies then. When I started preschool with her, I was laser focused on all of the traditional "first kid doing xyz" types of things: will she cry when I drop her off, will she play well with the other kids, will she come home happy about her day today? But, when Cade was born and it was his turn, guess what happened the day before he was supposed to start preschool? He had a violent reaction to his first taste of peanut butter, and our world turned upside down. Sending him to preschool would be an entirely different story.
I always say that the director of my preschool actually eased my heart more than my pediatrician did during that time. I remember so vividly her reassuring me that they would keep my little boy safe while he was at her school. In fact, she had a grown son herself who had allergies and carried an epi pen, and she understood. From that moment on, there wasn't a moment that I didn't feel supported by her or by my boys' amazing teachers when it came to their food allergies. Their rooms were always peanut/tree nut free, and their teachers communicated with me, asked questions and always made sure my boys were included.
While elementary school has been a different animal, the food allergy angels have continued to surround my boys and me. There is our amazing school nurse, the administrator who has always looks out for my boys, and teachers who have consistently shown my kids the upmost degree of understanding and empathy for their food allergies.
At the end of every school year, I always reflect. What was good? What was not so good? What can I do better as a mom for my kids? But, I also come back to how grateful I am for all of the things - big and small - that people did for my children, but didn't have to. You see, there's a difference between those who aren't walking in our shoes and want to understand and learn, and those who have absolutely no interest in doing either. And because both of these camps simultaneously exist, I don't ever want to take for granted anyone's kindness, empathy or heart.
So, as we close this school year - and particularly, as I leave the preschool where I found my footing as a food allergy mom - I am so very grateful. We couldn't do this without those friends, neighbors, teachers, administrators, fellow parents, and sometimes even strangers, who consistently choose to walk around to our side and see the world from our perspective. Listen, if there's someone who has touched you and your family this school year, please tell them thank you. Make sure that they know how much their thoughtful gestures have lightened your load. And, most importantly - let's all follow their example. You never know when someone else may need YOU to walk to the other side of them.