It’s that time of year. We’re all running on coffee or matcha and at the end of our collective ropes. Between shopping, crowds, concerts, and other obligations, I have found as I’ve gotten older that there are few material things I need. I find myself reflecting on the past year and looking at all the highs and lows. I try and evaluate what I’m lacking and what I’m doing really well at. Not only as a parent of kids with some extra special touches, but as an advocate too.
Knowledge – When we started our food allergy and Celiac disease journey many years ago, I didn’t know how I was going to function. I already had doubts about my ability to parent (as I think most of us do), but then the curveball of allergies came to light. TealKid was about a year old when he was diagnosed. I went from “Okay, I am finally starting to get the hang of this” to “What in the heck am I supposed to do now? Can I do anything? Can we leave the house?” I feel like it took some time to get comfortable in general with managing allergies. Then you start to branch out and find yourself in new situations and wonder how you are going to manage. Thanks to many people, our allergist, support groups, and some well-managed online forums, we were able to make strides in bridging the gap from “What do we do?” to “We’ve got this!”
Change – The only constant is change, they say. I have never found that to be as true as it is with parenting. Once you have it all figured out (like my almost 12-year-old does 😉 ) you have a new set of challenges you need to tackle. Whether it’s a school party, a project at Scouts, or changing from elementary to middle school, there is always something that is going to push you out of your comfort zone a little more. I know it doesn’t seem like it, but that’s really a great thing! We grow when we fail, and we win big when we push past our comfort zone. It isn’t always easy, but with every failure comes a lesson, and that’s how we grow.
Community – I have made some of the most amazing friendships through our community. I have a group of friends who truly get it like no others. They have been at those tense meetings trying to hammer out 504 plans and fighting to have their kids carry lifesaving meds with them. They help point out when I may be acting less than reasonable and have talked me down more than once. They understand the ins and outs more than many others who have no idea what managing this life entails.
Permission to Back Away – We have all been to the edge. With the constant demands we all have to manage, sometimes we need time to step back. The daily grind is something we each manage differently, but I’m sure we’ve all hit the wall at one time or another. Too many tragic news stories. Too many arguments at school meetings. Too many extra meals made for this banquet, event, gathering. It’s important to be sure you are in optimal working order and sometimes that means backing off and taking it easier on you! I think many of us feel that things will simply fall apart if we aren’t on top of every little thing. Here’s the thing: it usually doesn’t. Things may be managed differently, but they will be managed. The web forum won’t fall apart if you take some extra time with your family. Your kid won’t go into nutritional deficit if you let them eat cereal for dinner tonight because you are out of juice. Give yourself permission to step back. You will see things much more clearly when you come back!
As we have moved through the holidays and into the new year, our wish from the TealFamily is that you all have the things you need most. A home filled with love and compassion. Allergy-friendly snacks and great company for the year to come!