Saturday, June 29, 2013

To Label or Not To Label...That Is The Question?

I follow different blogs and read a variety of articles/information regarding kids, families, and parents dealing with severe food allergies. There is a main consensus among all of these parents in that we want to do everything we can to keep our children safe. However, each family has some differing opinions or approaches as to how they do that. For us; we have made our home a  peanut free environment, we advocate on his behalf while trying to educate others around us, we ask the 20 questions at restaurants, I am ultra aware of our surroundings when in public, and we're armed and ready to use epipens at a moments notice.

This isn't true for all families.....and I am not here to judge that. Some families are comfortable allowing the allergen to remain in the home. Others will home school their children so as not too risk a reaction at school. Some parents of peanut allergic children allow them to eat foods with "traces" or food that has been processed on the same equipment as peanuts. I have heard of one little boy who wears a shirt to school every day that says "I'm allergic to peanuts".  I am not saying I agree with all of these things. However, it is only my job to make decisions for my children, for our family.
Something that does seem to divide parents is the topic of "labeling" our children. Some parents of allergy children do not want them to sit at the "peanut free" table. They don't want them to be identified by a sticker or bracelet because they don't want them to stick out or be "labeled". These parents want their children to be able to have as "normal" life as possible and they don't want them to be bullied. By the way, if you don't know it, food allergy bullying is increasingly becoming a real problem with kids. So like I said before, I am not here to judge those parents and what they see fit for their families.
HOWEVER, I disagree.
Landon is constantly being labeled. He is labeled when I advocate on his behalf. He is labeled when I tell others that I have a son whose allergic to peanuts. I don't think there is one person who knows me, even as an acquaintance, who doesn't know he has a peanut allergy. In searching for preschools, I labeled him within the first few minutes by telling them he has an allergy. If you talk to me longer than 20 minutes you will probably learn that my son has a severe life threatening allergy to peanuts.
I literally label him as well. If he is not in my care, such as Sunday School or if we're at a large gathering where someone may offer him a snack, he wears a small sticker. The sticker usually says "Peanut Free" or "No peanuts for me. I am allergic." He also wears a bracelet that identifies his allergy. In addition, we mark his bag, that carries his epipens, Peanut Allergy. 
Landon's lunch labeled for VBS.

Backpack  w/epipens & a "peanut" label.
The wristband he wears identifying him with a peanut allergy.

Now don't get me wrong. He doesn't just wear these things around the house or when he's going to the store with us. We use the stickers and labels when he is with people who don't know him as well. I KNOW how easy it is to forget.  It only takes one nice parent to bring in cupcakes or offer him a snack and he could have a reaction. Not just a reaction. If he didn't get his epipen soon enough, it is highly likely he would go into anaphylactic shock and possibly die. Now if you know me well enough, you know I am far from a paranoid mom. I have 3 boys, there is no room for that. It's simple to me. Educate myself, educate him, educate others, and provide a safe environment.....and PRAY.
Anyways, my issue with not labeling is this. And this is not just in relation to food allergies.
Kids are different. God made each one of us unique and special in our own way. We were born with strengths, weaknesses, disabilities whether they be emotional or physical, different physical traits, different ways we learn, and the list goes on. But yet we want our children to "fit in".  It just seems , as a society, we are more concerned with children "fitting in", blending in with the other children, not appearing to be too different in fear that they may be bullied. When instead, we should be celebrating their differences! Let's teach them to accept themselves for who God created them to be. Not teach them how to blend in with the crowd. We should be  more focused on teaching other children to accept others for their differences and to show empathy towards others.  After all, don't us grown ups have enough issues of insecurity and self-consciousness from "not fitting in"?
So my goal, as a mother, is to teach my children to rejoice in their gifts that God gave them to use. Honestly, if they don't fit in then that's probably a good thing. Let's allow them to own who they truly are, not pretend to be like everyone else. After all, there's enough grown ups walking around doing just that very thing.
Landon's allergy does make him different. I don't care that I have labeled him as a kid with a peanut allergy. As far as I'm concerned, that just helps protect him because he is still pretty young. Of course, we have high hopes and I pray that he will outgrow his allergy. However, if he doesn't I hope that he grows up to accept his allergy. To own it as something that does make him different. To use it to advocate for himself, for others, to teach empathy to people who don't understand. 

"Why fit in when you were born to stand out?"......Dr. Seus

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Little Love For The Men

I feel like you do when you haven't seen someone for a long time. I wish I could just hug my screen. Ha! I've had no time to write and it's been awhile so that' s my way of saying I've missed it. Besides the little bit of writing I've done in the boys' journal, I haven't had time for any writing. And like I recently told a friend, it may be a good thing as I am an all or nothing kind of gal and letting it all spill out isn't always what everyone wants to hear. So anyways, for those of you who read my blog and keep up on our family, here it goes......

Today I've enjoyed looking at all the Father's Day posts on Facebook. The pictures and the kind words for all the wonderful men who are showing up in their childrens' lives and their grandchildrens' lives. Grandpas, Papas, Fathers, Father in laws, Brothers, Brother n laws......all the men who are giving their all to be there for their families. And I had fun looking through the pictures of my own husband with his sons. I could see the love and the memories that he's creating with them on a daily basis. Sometimes we're all so busy that we don't have time to reflect.
This morning we served breakfast to my husband, my brother n law, and my own father. And when I looked over at the kitchen table it was full of boys. And it struck me how blessed my boys are to be growing up in this generation of fathers. Often times in our society, the focus is on mothers and the sacrifices we are making for our families, how much of ourselves we give up for them, and  how difficult it can be to balance work, finances, faith, our children, and our marriages. But I started thinking about how difficult it must be for fathers. So much is expected of them as well......they have pressure to provide for their families, to be the spiritual leader, to support their wife in her career choices, to contribute to household duties and chores, to discipline their children effectively, and to spend what us moms consider to be "quality" time with their children. Furthermore, they have their own career pressures and their wives' expectations which may include; being a better listener, trying to figure out our love language, making enough time for us, etc. etc. etc......

And so perhaps, I have focused on how hard it is for me to juggle it all while neglecting  to consider how difficult it must be for my husband to do his own balancing act. My husband is one of those fathers who is hands on. He participates in every part of parenting and is an amazing role model for my boys. He, along with so many other fathers I know, works so hard for our family. Men are making sacrifices too. They are working long hours and choosing jobs that are best for their family whether that be due to location, benefits, hours, or pay. They are making time for their kids, changing diapers, cooking, taking out the trash, and trying to love their wives the best way they know how.

So when I look at a table full of men surrounding my boys, I feel so blessed. My young boys will no doubt grow up to be incredible men because they are surrounded by nothing less. Their Papa has a heart of gold and treats his wife with incredible tenderness and love. Their Grandfather loves the Lord and is showing them what it means to put God first in your life and how vital scripture is to their lives. Their dad is constantly showing them what sacrifice means and what it truly means to put your family's needs first. He is creative, funny, generous, handy, hard-working, and loving. And they've got Uncles who are also showing them what it means to care for your family. Seriously, this is why God gave me boys! Not because "I am a good boy mom", as many people say, but because he has surrounded my boys with incredible men. So today, let's give it up for the men!!

Here our some special pics of the men in our lives & some that show just how special our daddy is....

Curt and his dad. A great role model.

Grampa being his silly self.
He takes his kids everywhere. This is him & Nathan at Monster Trucks.

Most people do not know this but Curt is the most amazing birthing coach ever.
I never could have got through 3 natural childbirths without him. And I am pretty sure he
cried at every birth.
He's a way better cook than me!!