No one is perfect.
Not my precocious, sweet natured and mature daughter who has life threatening food allergies.
Not me as a friend or Mom.
Not the seemingly perfect PTA Moms, hottie at the beach, Mom of the year, the people we love, Super Duper Dad and not you.
All we do in life is try to make the best decisions we can and hope for the best. We like to think we have all the answers and that everything we do will turn out right…
and sometimes we make decisions that we know are not the best. We’ve all done it. Pushed the limits a little too far. Broken, sprained or fractured our bodies or hearts.
My daughter is nine and going through that phase I’ve feared since I was pregnant with her: She is transitioning from a the child I’ve always known in to the girl she wants to become and making me want to rip my freaking hair out. It is a crucial part of development and something we all go through.
And it still sucks.
No matter how “right” you raise a child they will push boundaries, go against you and become their own people.
By the way… there is no “right” way to raise a child.
Even the most seemingly perfect parent screws up. We all screw up.
All we can do is just figure it out along the way and hope we don’t screw up too much.
We hope we are doing it “right” even if there isn’t a cookie cutter answer for every situation.
I thought I was raising my daughter in such a way that she would always make the “right” decision when it came to her health and life threatening food allergies. I’ve educated her. She has seen me advocate for her. I’ve given her the tools to take responsibility and ownership of these health issues she faces and been by her side every step of the way. She has been applauded for her amazing ability to manage her health and self advocate.
But, she is still a child who is going through the start of a big phase in her life where she is going to push, test and find herself. This combined with the reality of her health issues, chronic pain and how pissed off she really is that she has to deal with this is harder than I expected.
I’m sad for her most days and angry on the other ones.
I often just cry with her.
The most frequent stories I hear about a child dying from anaphylaxis shock are teenagers who either forget their epi-pens, kiss someone who has consumed food there are allergic to or who push the limits themselves.
When my daughter was an infant I never thought she would be that kind of teenager. I thought… oh I will raise her better than that! I will do it right.
A couple weeks ago she ran from the kitchen projectile vomiting towards the bathroom. It was so sudden. She was screaming. By the time I got to her I could see the hives covering her arms, legs and face. I gave her benadryl and opened her epi-pen.
I knew if her airways started to close I needed to administer it. I knew what to look for. I had no idea what happened, why this was going on or what the next few minutes would bring…
All I knew in that moment was…
My child could die if this got worse.
The arguments we had didn’t seem that bad anymore. The mess in her room that always bothered me were insignificant. Her attitude was something I hoped I’d get again by the end of the day. The recent defiance was now seen in the light of her first steps in being a strong, independent woman…
Holy shit. What if she doesn’t live to be that woman?
When I thought that… well, I honestly cannot explain the pain, fear and rage I felt.
The swelling was minimal, the hives slowly started to fade, her vomiting ceased and she was finally able to tell me what happened.
She had a taste of pudding that she knew had milk in it. Like literally the amount that she picked up on the tip of her finger. Her milk allergy is off the charts so much that she is contact sensitive and she knows that!
Why would she do that?
Many reasons. None of them right or wrong. They just were.
She wanted to know how it tasted. She wanted to know if it was different than her pudding. She wanted to know what it was like to be a kid who could just eat anything. She also had wondered how bad it would be if she ate it… she half wondered if her milk allergy wasn’t as bad anymore since so many others have faded.
She knew it was wrong.
She knew it was a risk
She knew what the consequences could be…
But, she did it anyway.
Fortunately it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. We are both thankful for that.
I was angry at her. I was disappointed in myself. I’ve had so many recent moments with her making terrible decisions like stealing money or just being a little crazy person of ultimate defiance!
I had to really process what happened and why. I actually thought about myself a lot as a teenager and the really dumb things I did. I rebelled more than most do in a lifetime but I was fighting against some dark demons of my childhood… which I didn’t know at the time.
I can’t say that I never put myself in a life threatening situation or did things that could have completely ruined my life. I can’t say that I, as a teen, always made the right decisions or more importantly that I never made a decision I knew was bad.
The disconnect for me is that I didn’t have a life threatening health condition I was rebelling against or chronic illness that I was resentful for. I was just a punk ass kid!
I can’t imagine what I would have done had I been dealt those same cards.
My daughter hated her cards. She hated being different. She hated the comments insensitive adults make or the lack of care or concern she has been shown. She hated that she can’t just be like every other kid. She hated that she gets tired, hurts a lot and doesn’t know what her body will do next.
She hated being who she is… and she didn’t know what to do with that. She had a moment of wondering what if she consumed milk and had no reaction?
She would be a normal kid?
And she wanted that more than anything else.
She was wrong.
She knows that now.
She does love the life she has. She appreciates all that I’ve done for her. She knows she has been able to do more than some of her peers because of the adventures I will take her on. She loves me and all that we do. She isn’t ungrateful… quite the opposite.
She was just mad.
Most kids will come home late. They won’t pick up their rooms when asked. Might not turn in some homework or tell lies. They will talk back. They will say bad things about friends or family. Most kids will do normal rebellious things that we all experience.
But, when you have a child who has some serious life threatening health issues or who deals with chronic pain… they will not only do all those normal things but they will also have moments where they just don’t want to be themselves.
I can’t judge her or be angry at her for her decisions. I know its typical development but something most can’t comprehend if they don’t have a child with special needs. It does scare me. It seriously scares the shit out of me to go through that again… and we probably will in many other ways.
She wanted to have hope to have a normal life… and what she ended up discovering is that despite her health issues and life threatening food allergies she has a very full life. One that she loves.
We got through that hurdle and we will both keep learning from each one of them.
We both walked away with a lot more patience, appreciation and strength.
I also walked away with more gray hairs, possible ulcers and the feeling of my heart falling out of my butt.