Going Gluten-FreeMay 7, 2014

A Mother’s Thoughts

As a protective older mother, I sought the best for my only child. I made sure he had lots of attention, a good education, wholesome food, music lessons, swim instructions, travel experiences—any indulgence we could afford. I made sure he wore a helmet when he rode his bicycle and I covered him with shin and elbow pads when he skateboarded. But as much as I tried to protect him, I couldn't prevent him from getting celiac disease. It came with my genetic pool. Like me, he would need to be on a gluten-free diet for life.

Usually I’m a glass-half-full person, especially when it comes to the fact that I have celiac disease. I dwell on what I can have rather than what I can’t. But when it came to my child, I found myself peering out from the bottom of the glass. I devoted countless hours to making sure he was never singled out, that he didn’t have to compare his special-diet fare with the foods his friends were eating.

I orchestrated every food opportunity I could possibly control. His Sunday school class made braided challah so I improvised a gluten-free recipe to create stiff dough he could braid and eat with them. It meant hours of experimenting on my part. Then I volunteered to teach the class so I could supervise his preparation without appearing to hover.

When his class had birthday parties, I found out what the birthday child’s mom was bringing in and made something identical (or close to it) in a gluten-free variation. I was so grateful to the parent who asked if she could make something gluten free that I brought the mix for her to use and gave her pages of instruction.

In his teens, I really sparkled at the kids’ pizza parties. By then I had discovered that “normal” packaging could fool people into thinking there was no special diet. When my son was invited to a party, not only did I make a gorgeous pizza with pepperoni slices positioned just like Pizza Hut’s, I ran to the local pizza shop for a printed box. The box was a good trick that I played often. I tucked homemade cupcakes, cookies, brownies and more into the ubiquitous white baker’s box. A couple times I even bought boxed food in the supermarket and discarded the contents, just to get the cool packaging.

Have you ever done anything like this for your child? With Mother’s Day just around the corner, please share your thoughts with us about being the mom of a child with food allergies and sensitivities.

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