In life, especially in parenting, there are a lot of moments when you look back and think, “Oh my gosh....I thought that phase was a challenge?”, because youʼve realized that whatʼs next is not going to be any easier. My first real experience with this was when I had my second son. I knew that having a baby was a lot of work. You have to feed them, like, all the time. And their diapers.....thereʼs a lot of diapers. And they smell really bad. But I felt like I had done a decent job of mastering basic parenting skills, and I actually was dumb enough to think that adding a second baby into the mix was going to be a piece of cake. Obviously, I was waaaaay wrong. Having a toddler and an infant presented a whole new set of challenges that I had totally not anticipated. Definitely not a piece of cake, to say the least. That was the first time I ever felt completely unprepared for what was to come, because I had severely underestimated the complexity of the task at hand....my first OMG moment.
My latest OMG moment was when I contemplated signing up my oldest son (who has celiac) for church camp. I thought it was a great idea, and would be a lot of fun. But them I remembered that he would be there for three full days, and Iʼd have to check out the menu and see what he could and couldnʼt eat. I (stupidly) thought it would be an easy few fixes, like maybe packing some gluten free cereal and some GF bread. We go to a pretty big church, so I assumed that they had probably dealt with sending kids with food allergies or intolerances to sleep away camp. I sent an email to the church office and explained the situation and asked if it would be possible to get an advance copy of the menu to see what items I would need to sub out. I was absolutely shocked when I received their reply....they had no idea what I should do. They had no idea what the menu was and they werenʼt sure if there even was an advance menu. They suggested that I call the organization that runs the camp, and that maybe I could pack a cooler of acceptable food for my son. Or I could volunteer to be a camp counselor so I could be there to examine each item as it was served.
Well, this might make me a really bad parent, but I completely threw in the towel. I still havenʼt called the organization, and I havenʼt talked to my son about what he wants todo. I think its because I am still just so shocked. Weʼve been gluten free for a little over two years now, its become our normal. We know how to make killer GF cupcakes, and we know which pizza and sushi places have the best gluten free menus. I thought we had it down pat....and we do, in our controlled family setting. I thought we had won the battle, unaware of all the challenges that we have yet to face.
My son is nine now. Heʼs old enough to decide if he wants to go to church camp with a cooler full of gluten free food. Pain in the butt, yes. Unachievable....probably not. However, this experience really made me think about a whole new world of “what ifs”.What if he wants to eat dinner over a friendʼs house, and then realizes he canʼt eat what his friendʼs parents are making? What if heʼs hanging out with his friends and they all order pizza? Will he order his own, or cave to peer pressure? What will I do when my son wants to go to a party, but heʼs not quite old enough to drink? He wonʼt be able to drink from the tasty keg of Keystone that everyone else will be tapping. Will I be able to trust him not to? Or will I wind up being the mom that sends her kid to a party with his own six pack? And college.....thatʼs something I really canʼt even wrap my head around. Maybe by that point in time, more schools will have gluten free food menus, but otherwise, heʼs going to have to know how to cook for himself.
Helping a 7 year old to embrace a gluten free lifestyle was difficult....but Iʼm realizing that once again, I am completely unprepared for the challenges that lie ahead.Unfortunately, I donʼt have any friends with older children or teenagers who are gluten free. We have a lot of family members and friends who have experience with celiac andthe lifestyle changes that it involves, but none of them were diagnosed until adulthood.
Maybe some of you reading this have older children, or maybe even are older teens. I would love to hear what situations you found most difficult, and how you dealt with them.
Because, oh my gosh.....Iʼm gonna need all the help I can get!
GF Mommy Hilary