Snow Skiing Rescued Us From the Food Allergy Winter Blues

Snow Skiing Rescued Us From the Food Allergy Winter Blues

Winter is a tough season for our food allergy family.  Coming off the heels of multiple food-centered celebrations, we are literally exhausted.  Tremendous planning, safe proofing, and stress are all a part of the holiday season.  We traveled through Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s with flying (allergic reaction-free) colors only to land at two upcoming food-centered celebrations: Superbowl Sunday and Valentine’s Day.  With only a few weeks of breathing room between the two seasons, our family needed a break!

My amazing extended family invited us to go snow skiing.  I grew up skiing every year but it had been over twenty years since I’d hit the slopes.  None of my four children had ever been before.  With ages ranging from 4 to 16 years old,  they were all eager to learn to ski and snowboard.  I was a little apprehensive at first, as I always am when we encounter a new and unfamiliar environment in which I have to assess the dangers for my son with severe food allergies, but we were up for the adventure.  And we needed it.

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Between private snow boarding lessons for the oldest and ski school for the younger three, they all took to it quickly!  The lovely thing about ski school was that they fed them nothing.  NOTHING.  That is heavenly music to a food allergy mom’s ears.  Just heavenly.  I didn’t have to worry about what they were feeding my son or what the other children were eating that my son may be allergic to.  I almost cried when they told me there was no food served.  I was able to ski the slopes, only worrying about the normal parent stuff but not the food allergy stuff!  Of coarse, I was never more than a few minutes away from their location, but on this day, I was not hovering.

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Thank you Appalachian Ski School for handing the children back to their parents for a one and a half hour break for lunch.  Thank you for starting ski school at 10 am.  Thank you for ending ski school at 3:30 pm.  Thank you for arranging the day so that parents could feed their children snacks and lunch so that you did not need to.  Praise God my son could learn to ski without the usual worry about food.  And I could ski too.  I treasured every second.  It was relaxing and exhilarating all at the same time.  You food allergy parents out there know what I mean.

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My children learned a skill that will stick with them for life.  They learned it together.  They learned it safely.  We were all able to appreciate the beauty of God’s artwork and the natural playground He created for us.  Now that’s a family vacation!  We all needed a little break.  It was just the refreshment necessary to keep us pushing forward.

“For they refreshed my spirit and yours also.  Such men deserve recognition.”    1 Corinthians 16:18 

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Take Care of Yourself Too, Mama

Take Care of Yourself Too, Mama

When the focus of your days and nights is keeping your child safe, it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself too.  As a mom to a child with severe food allergies, it can even feel selfish to care for yourself.   Slipping away to the gym, for a relaxing walk outside, or a trip to the spa all can trigger intense feelings of guilt, even when safety measures are in place to protect your child.  How could I step away from my child when it’s my main job to protect him?

The stress levels of mothers of children with severe food allergies are sky high.  That goes with out saying.  FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) reports that “mothers of food-allergic children under age five have significantly higher blood-pressure measurements and report significantly greater levels of psychosocial stress than mothers whose preschool-aged children do not have food allergies.”  Combating this high stress level can be challenging.  So challenging, in fact, that I often find myself doing nothing about it.  But then how can I be my best if I don’t get the rest, nourishment and refreshment my body requires?

“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31)

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Sometimes, we do have to take a step back and find rest.  I admit, I find it difficult to discipline myself to self-care.  As a mother & wife, the demands seem never-ending.  As the mother of a child with severe food-allergies, in addition to the normal demands, I feel like I’m sinking in quick sand most days.  When I feel most overwhelmed and stressed, I feel that gentle nudge telling me to take a self-care moment.  That nudge gives me permission to seek rest and refreshment.  That nudge pulls me out of the quick sand and onto solid ground.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:26-30)

For me, it could be a time out for prayer, reading an encouraging devotion, a walk outside, or a quick trip to the gym (complete with a visit to the hydro massage bed).  For you, it could be something different.  Either way, rest is necessary.  Refreshment is necessary.  Take the time, Mama, to care for yourself.  You need it.  Your child needs you to have it, too.  Draw close to the One who provides rest and refreshment.

Stay safe…and get some rest.

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