One of the things that used to keep me up at night besides the question, “Will I be able to keep him safe when he’s out of my sight?”
was knowing how difficult it would be if we ever left the safety of our nut-free school. How could we make all new friends with so many restrictions? Would people think I was paranoid or over-protective? Why was this invisible disability preventing us from making life choices we knew we would eventually need to make? Even if we did find a school that was accommodating, how could my son, so utterly immobilized and terrified of change, ever make friends?
Once my son graduated OIT for his peanut allergy, our world changed. We were set free. But we weren’t even sure we wanted to move. Our school was filled with people who knew us and who my son had been prior to his food allergy treatment. They watched his personality change and his confidence bloom. Our new neighborhood was amazing and welcoming and totally kid-friendly. A whisper that now was the time to make our move grew louder and louder and this time, we didn’t have the same excuses.
We leapt. By leapt, I mean my husband pushed me off a proverbial cliff. I was content. I was basking in the glow of our post OIT life. But still, I knew if we didn’t leave then, we would eventually, except the kids would be older and it would be even harder. We returned to my home state of Texas. Nothing went or is going as planned. In some instances, that is good. My kids are in a huge school. They love it. I’m trying.
Our neighbors came out of their houses when they saw us open the back of the moving truck and unloaded the whole damn thing for us. Other neighbors delivered hot lasagna and wine. My brother and sister-in-law live here in Austin and arrived with vodka, chips and salsa. In the coming weeks we were invited over to play, out for BBQ and had baked goods and flowers delivered. Never could I have imagined how welcome we have been made to feel.
Yet still, I find myself sad this week. I look around and it’s tiresome to not feel “home.” We decided to rent before buying. As a Realtor, I’ve seen that mistake made too many times, but renting is hard. I want to be settled. I want to know where I’m going and not have to look it up first. I want to be with my oldest and dearest friend as she enters the final weeks of her last pregnancy and be there to soak up new baby smell. I want to grab our swimsuits and a side dish and head over to the Brown’s on a Sunday afternoon. It’s time to find new doctors and a local allergist (though Dr. Jones will always be our primary allergist). I need a new hair stylist (like, yesterday) and the thought of that makes me groan out loud. I’m also fairly certain my thyroid is whacked again and don’t have the energy in me to find a doctor who will look at more than the lab numbers to help me. <—– case in point
But despite this, I feel….right. I feel in my bones we are supposed to be here. That all our trouble and one step forward, 14 steps back…it’s all part of the plan. Lately, I’ve been gaining some ground. I leap forward and I’m excited for the future. My happiness is always tempered by the concern that my friends in Arizona think they have been forgotten or replaced, which is so far from the truth.
So this is us. Messy and real, but in a way that is not affected by the food my child cannot eat or touch or be around. Just normal, everyday messy. We haven’t forgotten, though…we will never forget. We will champion for other food allergy families and their right to have normal childhoods, holidays and lives. We will promote OIT, put out our teal pumpkin and pull other random food allergy moms aside whom we see dropping off Epipens to the school nurse in order to share our story.