Through the seven years I’ve been the momma of a kiddo with allergies and asthma, I’ve learned a lot about the importance of building the community surrounding you. The friends we make in any given life circumstance or life stage play an important role in serving as resources, sounding boards, and outlets for fun and creativity.
In the world of allergies and asthma, this community is one we depend on both for resources and as a safety net. The survival of our children is one thing—but being in a framily (you know: friends that have become so close that you’re like family–framily!) that is carefully built can ultimately ensure not just survival, but a child that thrives in every sense of the word. When I think of the framily we’ve been blessed with through the years, I realize that every allergy parent could benefit from having these types of friends.
Here are the four types of friends I think every allergy parent should have:
They’re the ones that have “been there, done that.” They answer your endless questions happily and with the wisdom of someone who’s walked the road you are starting down. They can guide you to a good allergist, walk you through what to expect at testing, and can tell you from their experience what meds could have the craziest side effects for your little one. My friend Carrie was that for me. When we had our first allergist appointment, she gave me the low down, told me what types of distractions to bring for testing and what to expect in general at our first appointment. Through the years, her experience has given me keen insight as to how to take our next steps.
The Trench Warrior
They’re the ones that walk the same path with you at the same time. They are the ones you compare peak flows with and they are the ones most interested in meds, latest treatments, alternative treatments, and research findings. That, my friends, is Jean. If you could just have a friend like her, you’d not just go to allergy shots; you would look forward to them. Her daughter “A” and my Z do shots together once each week. Z and A play Minecraft or another game together during the wait time. And Jean and I? We catch up on all sorts of stuff. We talk, we laugh, we congratulate each other and the kids on record high peak flows or making the “maintenance dose.” Or we discuss more important stuff–you know, like better paint colors for the waiting room walls.
Before food allergies, my idea of cooking was the quickest take-out available. Since diagnosis, I have learned to love cooking good food for my family. True story. Now it delights me to hear how much my boys prefer something I make to something we tried at a restaurant. When I first started out, though, trying to substitute eggs in a recipe could stump me. Enter Nora. Nora’s the kind of gal that reads cookbooks for fun and has all the knowledge of the art and science of cooking you could ever need. She’s the kind of person that knows why eggs are used in a recipe. One time I innocently asked her how to substitute eggs in a recipe and her first words were: “Oh, for this food, they use eggs as a binder, so you’ll want to…” Honestly? I’m still not quite sure what a binder is…but Nora can pull me out of my non-chef stupor and give me clear instructions on what to do, and it works! Honestly, everyone needs a Nora, food allergies or no.
The Non-Allergy Parent
This, perhaps, may be my favorite in this list. Here’s why: the non-allergy parent I refer to is the parent that has no allergies in their immediate circle, but as soon as they learn of your child’s allergies, they embrace them as their own. They are the ones that text you from the grocery store asking if a particular snack is safe for your child to eat, they consult with you on the menu for the party they are throwing, and they contact the restaurant about the ingredients used for the food before you even ask about it. You can trust them to be aware of the little things that can trip even the most veteran of us allergy parents up. I’m thankful to say I count multiple non-allergy parents as part of my tribe. Too many to list, but in my heart, they wear multiple crowns.
I know which role I play to different friends in my community. To some, I’m now The Sage, to others, I’m the Trench Warrior, and to others I’m now–surprisingly–The Chef. Which parent are you? Can you think of another type of parent I’ve missed? I’d love to hear, share your experience with me in the comments.