Don't Mess With the Food Allergy Mom Army
A guest post by Teen Advisory Group (TAG) member Mariah McConnell (shown here at left with her mom and sister). Mariah writes, "Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate, recognize, and appreciate the influence mothers have on society and the world. While I could never even capture half of how much I and all children with food allergies appreciate our food allergy moms, I hope this post sheds light on the lives they live and how much they do for us. Thank you for all that food allergy moms do to make this world a safer place for all."
Every year on Mother’s Day, we honor all the strong women who raise us. But we might be remiss if we didn’t take an extra moment to recognize a special bunch of women who have an extra challenge added to their daily lives: food allergy moms. Food allergy moms form an army of some of the most powerful people to ever walk the earth. Every day they wake up with a mission to protect not only their child, but every child who has food allergies. You simply do not mess with a food allergy mom because, frankly, they can’t be beat. They don’t give up. The army of food allergy moms has a goal, and they won’t stop until they reach it.
I am lucky to have many food allergy moms in my life. Back a couple of months ago, just when I thought I’d found the support I needed, I visited a local school for a leadership event, and they made it clear they did not want to accommodate me: I was labeled. This put me at a really low spot, but these moms refused to let me stay down. They all had my back and rescued me from the trenches. They helped me plan how to conquer the situation and rise above what happened. I find tremendous comfort knowing that so many moms stand at attention, ready to fight on my behalf. I know that at any moment in time I can reach out to the food allergy mom army and they will respond. I am so grateful to have these moms behind me and supporting me every step of my journey.
I would like to say thank you on behalf of every child with food allergies to all the food allergy moms so…
Dear Food Allergy Moms,
Thank you. These two words are so simple yet are never said enough. Know that everything you do for us does not go unnoticed, although it may seem that way. Every single one of you deserves gratitude every day for the way you wake up and continue the fight. You refuse to let one voice put you down. You always rise up, stand up, and speak out for what’s right. You spread our food allergy message one day at time to keep us safe and included.
As we get older and stray further from home you can be assured that we know how to navigate this world because of everything you have taught us. How to read a label, recognize anaphylaxis, give an EpiPen, and advocate for what we need, never letting anyone tell us differently. Honestly that is probably the biggest thing we have learned from you: to never let anyone tell us what we need and when we need it. Because of you, we know how to be in charge of our own lives. We can look after our own necessities.
Learning this has not been an easy road. We cannot imagine what it must have felt like to send us into the world over and over again: to preschool and elementary school where we couldn’t advocate for ourselves; to middle school as we learned to navigate new social situations; to high school where we would put ourselves in risky situations to fit in; and finally off to college where we have to figure everything out for ourselves, quickly. It’s just as scary for you as it is for us, but know one thing: “we got this” all because of you.
You provided us a safety net that can slowly be removed. When we look back on our childhood, we will realize that while we grew up thinking we were “smothered and hovered,” we were actually given a gift that is the foundation of our food allergy safety skills. We love you and appreciate everything you do for us.