The One Ball I Cannot Drop

I’m not sure if I’m a juggler or a catcher.

Most days it feels like both.

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Keeping balls in the air and fielding the ones tossed my way.

Definitely both.

On a daily basis, I drop one ball or another.  I’m working to see this not as a failure, but as a “missed” try–something to work harder on.  Some are more serious than others–bigger balls, you might say, and so the little ones I drop I barely blink an eye anymore.

Forgot to get boxes of tissues.  Okay, grab a roll of toilet paper and sit it on the counter.  Not aesthetically pleasing, but not hurting anyone either.  And it gets the job done.

Forgot to get ketchup.  A little more serious.  Dig in the refrigerator I need to clean out (another dropped ball), fingers crossed I will find a stray pack of ketchup or sauce that will make them forget they really want ketchup.

Slacked on the toothbrushing routine and paid for it at the dentist.  A little more serious.  Actually, I spent three days beating myself up over this.  But once again, took it as something to work harder on and we are back on track.  Dental hygiene–we got this!

Overdue library book.  Okay, lecture my sorry self about being a sorry self and put the book in the car and make sure we get by there to return the book.  Again, it costs us, but it is easily fixed.  Thankfully.

Got behind on fourth grade math skills.  This dropped ball weighed on my heart, smack dab where it landed, for quite some time.  Finally, I gathered my thoughts and made a game plan and asked for help.  Possibly my best move as a home school parent–asking for help when it was overwhelming.  That ball has been tossed back up in the air, and as long as we stay on it, we’re good.  Thankfully.

But there is one ball that I am constantly fielding and juggling.  I am not the only one.  There is a whole community of parents and caregivers who are dealing with this.  Every single moment of every single day.

Those who care for children who have food allergies.

Food allergies.  These are the commonly recognized top 8:

Milk

Eggs

Fish

Crustacean Shellfish

Tree Nuts

Peanuts

Wheat

Soybean

These are the major allergens, but know that these are not all of them.  There are as many food allergies as there are foods.  I have a niece who is allergic to two of the top 8 and bananas.  They can vary and often the person with food allergies will have multiple foods that are problematic.

Food allergies are more than unpleasant and uncomfortable and bothersome.

They are DEADLY.

When you are allergic to something, it doesn’t matter if your last reaction was treated with Benadryl and you were fine.  Each reaction is different, and anaphylaxis can occur with any contact to an allergen.

Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.  It can kill.  When it occurs, a shot of epinephrine and a trip to the ER are the proper course of action.

As a parent of a child with three of the eight major allergens, that is the one ball I cannot drop.

I MUST NOT DROP.

At the grocery store, I read labels. And reread them.  Sometimes my OCD and anxiety kick in and I have my oldest reread the label before we prepare whatever it is.

I get emails regularly notifying me of recalls because of potential exposure to allergens.  I usually get several of these a day. (The latest is for cumin and paprika–these have me rethinking a lot of what we prepare and eat…..and no more Mexican restaurants for a while.)

I bake cupcakes for her to take to birthday parties.  I politely decline treats at the bank and grocery store.  I hesitate before accepting invitations to anything.

I check and double-check that we have her epipen anytime we leave the house.

I obsess over complaints of throat discomfort and rashes.  Sometimes it’s hard to delineate between anxiety and a potential reaction.

Before we go out to eat anywhere I’m online looking up allergen charts.  If they don’t have one, we don’t go.

I reiterate over and over to the wait staff my child’s allergens and what she’d like to order.  Even if we just ate there last week, and all was okay.  I sound like a broken record to my family, I know.

I am careful about soaps and lotions and shampoos, because there can be allergens in there as well.

When we go to events, I eyeball what those around us are snacking on.  I have coached my daughter to look out for her own well-being, but she’s only ten.

This is my ball.

And I’m doing everything in my power not to drop it.

So when I see this “meme” going around the social media world that is insinuating that this is a choice–living with this life-threatening condition that keeps me up at night and has my anxiety at a level 9000 on a scale of 1 to 10–

I get mad.

Angry.

Vehement.

How dare they?

The memes I’ve seen are basically saying:

“If my kid can’t bring peanut butter to school, yours shouldn’t be able to bring communicable diseases.”

I’m sorry–what the heck?!

I am not here to debate about immunizations.  That is not my place.

What I am here to do is to put a halt to this IGNORANCE.

I’m not angry with the people who shared it.  They don’t know any better.  They might be reacting from a place of fear for their child’s health, and I GET THAT.

But hear this–

I FEAR FOR MY CHILD’S HEALTH EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

I wash down surfaces in public to keep her safe, and I carry a sheet to cover the theater seats to limit the chances of exposure to her allergens.  I LOOK LIKE CRAZY, JUST TO KEEP MY CHILD ALIVE.

THIS.

THIS IS NOT A CHOICE.

Whether or not people get their children immunized (again, not debating that here) IS A CHOICE.

Get it straight, please.

While there may be some parents who have children with food allergies who choose not to get immunizations, the two do NOT automatically go hand in hand.

ONE IS A CHOICE A PARENT MAKES FOR HIS OR HER CHILD.

THE OTHER MOST DEFINITELY IS NOT.

Because believe you me, if I could choose for this to be gone tomorrow, in the next minute, ten years ago–

I WOULD.

If I could choose an allergy free life for my child I would.

So we could enjoy going on vacations without worrying that the person who stayed in the room before us had a major feast of her allergens right before checking out.  So we could go to eat with friends without my having a mini-meltdown in my closet before we have to leave.  So I could let her say yes to party invitations based on whether or not she wanted to go, and not on how well I felt the parents would work with us on her allergens.

So I wouldn’t be sitting here tonight, while she’s ten years old, praying with white knuckles that when she is allowed to date, the person she is interested in will respect her and care enough about her to do everything to keep her safe.

Just like I have.

Every day of her life.

I have a lot of balls in the air.

But this is one I cannot, MUST NOT drop.

This.  This is not a choice.

This is our reality.

There is a difference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barring Unforeseen Circumstances

I love my job.

The one that has me spending no two days the same–the one that can turn around on a dime, as quick as the numbers rise on a thermometer or a stomach goes south or as fast as we realize we have to have this particular something by Saturday.  I rarely plan anything without saying “barring unforeseen circumstances.”

Because those circumstances that do come into being are just about always unforeseen.  The good ones as well as the bad.

And I’m learning to roll with the punches.

Well, for the most part.  Although Mama said “Flexible” was her middle name (jury is still out on that one *ahem*),  it most definitely is not mine, but I’m aiming for “somewhat limber.”

I love the chance for creativity that this job offers.   The other day Cooter said he wasn’t feeling good.  He had a couple of things to do that evening, places he was supposed to be…..activities he is a part of.  He drew a picture of his head with an arrow through it and brought it to me.

“This.”  He handed it over.

“What is this, bud?” I asked.

“It’s what my head feels like.  Right.  Now.”  He paused for effect.  “And my stomach is bothering me too.”

Hmmm.  Really.  First I’m hearing about all of this.  Okay.  Not that it was impossible, but well…..

“Oh I sure am sorry about that.  Okay let’s just sit and relax for a few minutes.”  I waited for a little bit, and then:  “Hey, I have an idea.  Who wants brownies and ice cream?”

That boy jumped up so fast he made MY head spin.  “I do!  I do!  I do!”

“Ha!  You playing me?  I thought your head and stomach hurt?”  He at least had the decency to look properly chagrined.

Our Princess was thoroughly impressed.  “Oh Mama!”  She even clapped her hands.  “That was very good.  I’m going to remember that so I can do it when my children are playing me.”

Ha.  Well, okay.  Sure.  Go ahead.

Today they were talking about where they’d like to live when they grow up.  Turns out Cooter isn’t going to get married but plans to adopt two girls and two boys and the boys will have bunk beds in their room, so he can get a three bedroom house.  Or maybe a four bedroom.  He wasn’t sure.  He might need bedroom number four in case our Princess’ children want to come over and spend the night with their cousins, he says.  Or, Princess said, “maybe you should have it for when my husband wants to have a guys’ night sleepover!”  Oh me, these children.

Apparently they both plan on living in Florida too, because, well “duh” (my word, their attitude) Mama, “Disney, our children…..Disney.”  So yeah, pretty sure that when I closed my eyes for a few minutes this afternoon, I was being nominated for worst parent of the year because we live five and a half hours away from Disney, and I won’t move us any closer.  (Our Princess, who apparently has picked up for my love of Georgia, asked how close to Disney we would be if we lived at the very “bottom” of Georgia.)   It’s an award I deserve, I suppose.

Tonight I found myself laughing to myself, knowing that I have truly reached the pinnacle of Mamahood.

I think my children have Fall Fever.  The weather is a little cooler.  They asked me if we were going to turn on the heat.  (Ummm, no.)  The weather has been gray and overcast, and they are having a hard time focusing.  Or maybe that’s just me.

Despite all that, they have been fussing and fighting most of the afternoon and evening–the kind of arguing that makes a Mama crazy.  (“He’s touching me.”  “She pushed me.”  “Mama make him/her stop!!!!!!”)  Within a fifteen minute time span I found myself saying:

“Don’t you even think about doing that again!”

“Ahem.  Do it again.  Do.  It.  Again.” (complete with the teeth clenched and everything)

When you make two completely opposite statements, and they mean the exact same thing…..you might be a Mama.

Tonight I’m thankful for my children, the reasons I have the job I do.  Some days they make it easy, many not so much, but they always keep it interesting and they usually throw in some much-needed laughter as well.  I love the adventures my days become, and I love being along for the ride as they figure out who they are and whom they going to be.

Tomorrow is another day, but it’s sure to be full of more mischief and things that surprise me and others not so much.  And I even know our plans ahead of time for a change.

Well, you know, barring unforeseen circumstances.

Wishing you all a job you love.

Love to all.

 

 

My Letter to Disney

Dear Disney,

I would like a moment or two of your time, please.

Yesterday in the gomobile, my little guy Cooter announced out of the blue how much he liked the “Thor” ride at Epcot.  He’s referring to “Maelstrom” located in Norway.  His nine-year old sister, our Princess, turned to him and said, “Well you know they’re going to turn it into a ‘Frozen’ ride, right?”

The sound from the back was deafening.  “NOOOOOO.”  He stopped for a second.  “I’ve had enough of that.”

That moment right there.

It got me to thinking, you know?

Sure “Frozen” had the guy with the moose.  And Olaf.  He was cute.  But really it was a movie about sisters.  And it is plastered all over any and every store we go in–including the grocery store.  It’s everywhere.  I was at a birthday party for an eight-year old girl today, and they sang some karaoke.  Guess what the first song sung was?  Yep.  “Let It Go.”  Guess what the second girl wanted to sing?  Yep.  You got it.  Again.

So congratulations.  You made a movie and saturated the market.  Your stuff is everywhere.  Except for Elsa’s dress.  And that’s a serious problem around here, but we can discuss that another time.

Your channel is one that my children are allowed to watch certain shows on.  I really like some of your programming, and your shows are the ones my college daughter remembers and loves the most from her elementary and middle school years.  I especially love that my children aren’t bombarded with commercials or ads for shows not appropriate for them to see.  (Yeah, I’m talking about you, football game broadcasts.)

Or that was the case.

Oh Disney, you have done me wrong.  For weeks and weeks you advertised “Guardians of the Galaxy.”  It looked great.  My little guy was thrilled and actually laughed out loud and said “cool” numerous times each and every time the trailer was shown.  You played interviews with cast and staff from the movie.  Can you say saturated?  Yes, we were all primed for that movie.

And then–

the rating was released.

PG-13.

Are you kidding me?  Do you even know the average age of your viewers?

I am disappointed in your discernment on this.  My little guy was beside himself, and since a Mama can only be as happy as her least happy child AND since, if Mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy–I think you can see where I’m going with this.

What the heck, Disney?

After my son’s comments yesterday made me realize he hasn’t been over the moon about a movie like our Princess has “Frozen” (Star Wars doesn’t count–they were made in 1977 on and you had nothing to do with THOSE), I took a survey on Facebook today.  I asked my friends to name movies with strong male characters made by you in the past 10-15 years.

I also did some research on the internet.

In case you didn’t already know this, there are none.  Not made by you.  Not any one that has been invested in the way that “Frozen” or “Tangled” have.  The ones my friends listed were either NOT yours or pre-2007 when my little guy entered this world.  (There’s Percy Jackson and Harry Potter, but they both are a little intense for a seven-year old–and Harry gets into that PG13 range. Sigh.) And I’m sorry, I figure you are trying to aim the Cars series and the Planes movies at ones such as he, but honestly he can’t identify with being a car or a plane or a rat or monsters.  I’m just looking for a movie about a real boy (or a prince–that could be okay, I guess, I mean our Princess isn’t really one and she identifies with these young women so…..okay).

Is that so hard?

At the very least please stop promoting your movies on your very PG/G channel that aren’t appropriate for the younger set.  I have had it, and I won’t be seeing “Guardians of the Galaxy.”  That’s right, you won’t be getting my money for that one anytime soon.  (I can hear you crying, and I’m sorry I had to go there.) I promised Cooter we would see it together when he’s old enough.  He’s already had me pencil in a date with him to do just that in early 2020.  That’s the year he turns 13.  Sigh.

And finally, here’s the thing.  So help me, if you mess up this Star Wars thing, I will come after you with every bit of Mama madness and all my posse along with me. (And one of them calls herself Batgirl, because she comes out with her bat swinging, wanting to know who’s messed with me–you’ve been warned, Disney.)  This is my boy’s THING.  He loves all things Star Wars.  He knows the history inside and out even though he’s only been allowed to watch the first three that were made (again due to ratings and age appropriateness)–Episodes IV, V, and VI.  Yours will follow right behind these in the storyline.  I repeat, do NOT mess this up.  Do whatever you have to do, but you can tell a story without all that blood and gore and suggestiveness and the like.  TELL THE STORY.  And make it a good one.  This is your best shot to make it up to my little guy and all those like him who are looking for someone to identify with, to recognize, and get excited about seeing.  Someone maybe even to emulate as they realize so much of life is about making wise choices and choosing good over evil.  You can do this, I know you can.  I’ve seen it.  “Brave” and “Frozen” are really great because you changed it up on us–the focus moved from being rescued by the Prince to other relationships also being important and females being strong and I LOVE IT.  Thank you.  (Although you have yet to really reach the stars again like “Mary Poppins” did–great story, Julie Andrews, and Dick Vandyke–win.win.WIN.  Yeah, I’m seriously “old school.”)

If you don’t get it right, I’m forever moving my fanship over to that other film company–and theme park, and I promise to make you cry again.

Really and truly, all I’m asking you is to please remember our sons.  We have become so focused in raising strong girls that I really am starting to feel like our boys are getting pushed to the side.  And that is not okay.  Seriously, the highlight of our day at Epcot in my little guy’s mind was the “Thor” ride.  I’m not saying don’t have a Frozen ride, I’m just saying, please remember that not all of our boys love the Moose and Olaf THAT much.  They need songs to sing and people to dress up like and aspire to be like too.

Best wishes to you all.  I’ve read that the upcoming movie “Big Hero 6” has a fourteen year old boy as the main character.  I am hopeful that you might redeem yourself, but the really true test will be Star Wars VII set to be released (at this time) in December of 2015.  My son will be 8.  I mean it, make it awesome and make it appropriate. We’re talking keep it PG.  Or else.

Sincerely,

Mama Who Wants Good Movies for Her Son Too

And she ain’t playing