All year Moira and Maggie go to dance and practice and look forward to the spring recital. Moira, at 10, is a little more aware of herself and a bit nervous about getting the routine down and being on stage. Maggie, on the other hand, when I asked her if she was ready, said, “Sure! What dance am I doing?” Um, the one you practiced all year? And really, when the 3, 4 and 5 year olds got on stage, they were adorable and enthusiastic and what they did hardly resembled what I’d seen them rehearse… but who cares?
I remember when Moira was born, and I was a little scared of this bawling, beautiful baby. She seemed so small and fragile. And I remember how you held her and changed her diapers and how when she cried you would snuggle her close and she would fall asleep on your chest and you both looked so sweet and content. You were an only child who had no experience with babies and yet you leaped with both feet into the pool of fatherhood. The kids and I are lucky, blessed, happy to have you in our world. Happy Father’s Day.
Into each life, anxiety must fall. Some more than others, and as the mom of a kid with a severe peanut/nut allergy and asthma, I wrestle to find just the right amount of anxiety. Y’know, not so much that I’m a stumbling bundle of fear, but enough so that we are constantly aware and taking all necessary precautions to keep Maggie safe. It is so necessary to find a balance and as a person who has always favored extremes, it is a challenge. Sometimes I do feel like a mom on the edge.
Up till now, Maggie has been at home with me, or at the homes of people we trust who know and understand her life-threatening condition and know how to keep her safe. She has been with people who love her and protect her. But soon she will start school. And, EGAD, I am a teacher and have worked in and around public schools for 20 years. I understand all too well the realities of the classroom and what is asked of teachers. I know how easy it is to make one little mistake reading a label, or not paying attention to what others are eating near you. The problem with a severe allergy is that there is no room for mistakes because the stakes are so high (the last mistake landed us in the ER for 6 hours and then 3 days of a steroid and Benadryl every 6 hours to prevent a secondary reaction. And that was a good outcome.)
So, I am feeling slightly nauseous as I tussle my own emotions and anxiety about Maggie starting school. And the very last thing I want to do is pass my fears onto to her. We have rules that she is very good about following. DO NOT EAT ANYTHING UNLESS MOMMY OR DADDY SAID IT WAS OKAY. Reading labels is a hideous challenge and because the FDA does not require labeling for cross-contamination (see above incident) you can’t always trust a label and need to call the manufacturer. That needs to be our responsibility, so the rule is she eats NOTHING unless mom or dad ok’d it. But rules are broken and mistakes happen and I admit, I am afraid.
So, as I look ahead to Maggie starting school, I am a mom on the edge, struggling to balance her freedoms and my fears, her safety and the nutty world we live in. How do others moms do it? Any ideas?