How do you do it? What an uncomfortable parenting question.
I frequently get asked- “How do you do it? How do you handle Sammie’s food allergies? I don’t think I could handle it. Worrying about everything she eats must be terrible!”
“How do you manage all of Spencer’s needs?”
When I am asked the uncomfortable parenting question- “How do you do it?” I think of a quote from the movie Sleepless in Seatle.
There is wisdom in remembering that to do hard things I just have to move forward- one step at a time. For Sammie we handle it-
One food choice at a time.
One birthday party at a time.
One camping experience at a time.
We try to help our daughter stay safe in this world where a bite of a tree nut will cause her throat to close up.
We take precautions. Sammie is at camp this week and here is a peek into the planning that went into her food. Every bag is labeled by the day of the week and the meal so she can grab it easily.
Did it take a lot of work? Absolutely. Was it worth it for our peace of mind? Absolutely. Are we happy that she could participate in this amazing experience safely? Absolutely. Do I wish she didn’t have to deal with this particular issue? Absolutely.
But we don’t focus on it. Her issues with food are completely avoidable so we avoid and protect her environment as much as possible. She talks about how she learned to read food labels before she could read books in her allergy advocacy talk.
I don’t think I could do it
Sure you could. It’s your kid. What choice do you have?
You handle all kinds of other hard things every single day. You are a rock star manager of all of the trials that are specific to YOUR unique situation.
You don’t have to handle mine- you have more than enough to handle in your life!
Having different challenges can bring us closer together if we let it. I can support you with things that are not a trial in my life. You can support me with skills you have learned.
Someone else’s difficult situation does not make mine easier to handle
Whenever I hear about someone’s difficult situation and it is worse than my day to day I feel this guilt that I’m struggling with somewhat trivial things when there are people around the world with “real” problems.
Who defines what is real? Just because someone else has a hardship that is more of a challenge than my reality doesn’t make my situation easier to handle.
I learned this lesson while potty training
When Spencer was potty training (he was almost 6) an acquaintance of mine was complaining about how hard it was to potty train.
I remember thinking that she had nothing to complain about! At least her son could talk! At least her son could be reasoned with and could understand the concept.
Almost immediately after I had this thought I realized how uncharitable I was being.
Potty training IS hard no matter what! Just because it was potentially harder for me did not negate her struggle to teach her child.
It’s hard to remember our own unique situation can not be compared to someone else’s unique situation.
Supporting each other
It all goes back to supporting each other. We all have gifts and talents that could bless the lives of others. We all have experiences that can offer comfort and guidance to someone else. We all have a love that can be shared. A hope that can be given.
I want to look at someone who is struggling in a different way than me and try to think:
I’m sorry they are hurting. How can I help?
So, How do I do it?
I get up every day. I breathe in and out. I put one foot in front of the other.
Just like you.