Going Gluten-FreeDecember 29, 2010

Aftermath of a Blizzard

Like thousands of others, my well-planned travel schedule over the holidays was thwarted, a casualty of the post-Christmas snowstorm that socked the Northeast. It meant re-arranging work obligations while I was “stuck” in a city far from home. But the blizzard brought a bonus: an extra day spent with my two adult children. This surprise was, hands down, my favorite Christmas gift of all. My son and daughter, now both in their 30’s, are busy professionals who live many states away from me. Getting extra hours to hang out with them was special indeed.

Speaking of kids, Living Without’s Wendy Mondello and her 7-year-old son Joseph recently attended a holiday teleseminar hosted by Gina Clowes, life coach and founder of the online support group AllergyMoms.com. Joseph is severely allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, milk, egg and soy. At the end of the seminar, Clowes asked Wendy and other participants to close their eyes, breathe and envision the different stages of their children’s lives, starting at birth and on through marriage. Here’s how Wendy describes it:

The exercise stripped away the stress I often feel and helped me focus on the wonderful child I’m blessed and privileged to raise. I’ve always championed the brighter side of situations, while being sure not to ignore reality with my child. For example, I tell Joseph the truth if I don't think attending an event is worth the risk in light of his severe allergies. But I don't dwell on what he can't do. Instead, we do something else that is rewarding and just as much (or more) fun. Of course, he gets disappointed about certain things that are unsafe for him to eat or do. I don't gloss over those sad moments, nor do I ignore the fear that can creep up on me when I think about how one misstep, one wrong bite, could end my precious son's life. Joseph, too, understands this and is extra careful about what he eats and touches. 

As part of the exercise, Joseph imagined himself as a teen: "I picture myself playing tennis and I bet Super Mario Galaxy 10 will be out by then, so I'll be playing that. I'll help coach younger kids so they can learn tennis, too. I think I'll be tall and wear sweatpants."

The exercise was a reminder to envision the best scenario for my child and work toward that future with an emphasis on the positive. Yes, I must be vigilant about avoiding life-threatening allergens, and it takes extra work to ensure my child's safety. But it’s also important not to let worry cast a negative pallor on Joseph's quality of life and dreams.

As much as thoughts of the teen years bring Wendy some trepidation (she admits she’s glad she has some time before Joseph becomes a teen), it’s enjoyable to look to the future together. Here’s to looking with a spirit of fun and hope. The team at Living Without magazine wishes you good health, good food and a very happy New Year!

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