When Jacob was diagnosed with food allergies, I admit I developed a quiet but raging paranoia about pretty much the entire world, both inside our home and out. I couldn’t imagine why anyone who even knew Jacob would consider ingesting dairy in his presence. Clearly that was a recipe for disaster, and not even the smoothest, stretchiest cheese could change my mind.
I used to think the mom in My Sister’s Keeper (the book more than the movie) was a nutjob. Now I could totally relate.
As time went on, as I learned more about allergies—and more importantly, about Jacob’s allergies—I shed my fear that there was something the doctors weren’t telling me or something I had neglected to tell them. Life went on, and there were still reactions, but I learned how to backtrack and find their triggers. Some situations were tougher than others—namely holidays, international travel, and anytime we’d be away from home for more than six hours—but we did it. We talked to people and were diligent in watching what we and those around us were eating. We went to Montreal; we went home for the holidays. We didn’t need Benadryl once in our six days home for Christmas.
Yet there will always be more challenges ahead. We’re hosting our informal wine club’s next tasting. I’m not sure what inspired me to bring a cheesecake to the last event. Maybe I was getting a little cocky. Maybe I just don’t want everyone else to swear off dairy when we’re around. We told everyone about Jacob’s allergies, but unfortunately hives appeared right as we were heading home. I felt horrible, even though I knew the reaction might have been triggered by the cheese plate that had been out the whole time or our main course, which was cooked in butter, rather than the cake we’d served in the final half hour.
The truth is, I still do want everyone else to decline dairy to make sure Jacob’s safe. I just don’t want to force it on them. And I’ve noticed that those who have volunteered to wipe dairy from the menu when we’re invited over have exclusively been mothers.
It’s true that we can be careful; we can be safe. Not everyone needs to kiss Jacob all the time, and he isn’t one to walk up to a plate and swipe something unknown. It’s not that John or Jacob’s grandfathers aren’t as pained to see Jacob react as his grandmothers or I am.
But there is something that seems to live primarily in mothers that makes my mommy friends, my mother, my mother-in-law, my aunt, and so on, ask about ingredients in food, what they can have ready in the fridge or pantry for him when we arrive, what we should or shouldn’t have out on the table when the little guy’s around.
I think it’s that they are not only concerned with his wellbeing, but with my peace of mind as well. It’s hard to enjoy a holiday celebration when I’m tracking people’s visits to the cheese board. It’s frustrating to walk into a room and remind a doting relative not to snuggle the baby after that pizza lunch.
John often says a happy mother makes for a happy family. He does a good job of keeping things that way. But I’m also incredibly grateful for the other mommies who help make it happen.