Eating Out, Take-Out: Whatever you Want to Call it, Just Isn’t In Our Vocabulary

{Throughout the month of May as part of Food Allergy Awareness month I wanted to share more of our food allergy story and how life will never be the same for us.}  

My daughter and I have been attending a lot of meet ups with other families recently since we’ve moved from PA to CA just over 2 months ago (has it really been that long since I’ve seen my parents?!)  

One of the meet ups always takes place on Fridays at 4pm, yes, 4pm on a Friday.  Usually by 4pm on a Friday I’m counting down the hours and minutes until bedtime and socializing and mingling are usually the last thing I feel like doing, but, I keep saying that making friends is like dating and that we have to “put ourselves out there.”  So 4pm on a Friday it is.

Last week {after doing a fun craft with the kids} while the other Moms were sitting around having a glass of wine as the children played so nicely in the sandbox, I started prepping my daughter around 5:20pm that it was almost time to leave.  Finally  at 5:45pm – 15 minutes later than I had wanted to – we were the first ones to leave and we started our walk home. 

As I was leaving the “party” one of the Moms asked if I cooked.  I think I looked at her like she had 8 eyes.  Well if I didn’t cook then what would me and my family eat is what I wanted to say.  Instead I just responded with a quick “yes, don’t you?”  

Her response, “well I’m kind of spoiled; we eat out pretty much every night.”  

Eat out, take out – whatever you want to call it -isn’t really part of our vocabulary.  

With only one or two restaurants we really trust, we don’t have that luxury very often.  And, really, despite what my husband would say, there’s only so much Chipotle one can eat.   You see while my daughter was napping the day of the meet up I made sure I prepped dinner so that it could easily be reheated in under 30 minutes and ready for our 6:30pm usual mealtime.  

Having a child with food allergies changes your life in so many ways.  There are many social impacts beyond what many {non food allergy families} see on the surface.  Grabbing take-out is one of them.  And one that I miss.  

I am not asking for a pity party because we can’t eat many prepared foods, but sometimes I miss the convenience and ease of grabbing a meal on the go.  

When I see a family ordering a pizza, picking up sandwiches after a longer-than-expected park outing, or having a treat at the local ice cream shop I sometimes gets teary eyed.  My daughter will never know what its like to do those things.  Things that I grew up doing with my family and where many memories were made.  I mean what kid doesn’t love Chuck E Cheese or a trip to the local ice cream shop?!?

As a Mom to a daughter with severe food allergies I feel like our mealtimes have gotten much easier now that I have been at this for over a year {she was officially diagnosed with food allergies at 5 months, again at 9 months, again at 11 months, and more again at 15 months – and is now 2 years old} but the social aspects of food allergies have gotten harder.

As my daughter gets older she is getting more aware of what other kids are eating and doing.  Last week she pointed to the buffet bar at Whole Foods and said “Mommy, that’s what I want for lunch.”  “I’m sorry honey, you can’t eat that because of your allergies.”

At story time a little boy was eating Cherrios and drinking juice.  On a warm and sunny afternoon a little girl was chowing down on her Drumstick as peanuts came flaking off into the sandbox.  

It’s not that easy for us.  I know my job is to keep her safe and teach her about how dangerous these things could be for her while keeping her life “as normal as possible.”

But not being able to enjoy a family meal out at a restaurant after a long week or being able to grab something to eat on-the-go because my daughter wants to stay another 20 minutes to play with her friends just doesn’t “feel normal.”   

I am still learning about all of the aspects of having food allergies, and I know as my daughter gets older I have 504 meetings and food allergy emergency plans to create in my future.  Questions like:  Are you nut-free?  Do the kids wash their hands after snacks and meals?  Is there a nurse on site?  …

For now I am thankful that I have the time to make delicious {and safe} meals for my family and work hard at trying to keep her life “as normal as possible.”  While one Mom went off to order her take-out I was rushing home to finish our meal in the oven. 

The irony of the story is that the Mom who “is spoiled” eating out every evening commented to me earlier in the meet up that her child is now in daycare and she “is bored and has nothing to do while he’s there.”  

Come on over, I’m new to the area, looking to make friends, and I’m happy to teach you some new recipes.  They may be egg, nut, kiwi, and pineapple free but I assure you they are very delicious and cooking for your family can be enjoyable and a part of your daily lives.

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