Letting My Child with Food Allergies Grow Up


Like any other mother, I love my child more than anything else in this world. I would die for him. My heart aches sometimes when I look at him just because he is such an amazing kid. I never knew love like this existed until I had him.

And ever since he turned 3 years old, I have lived in fear of losing him.

Just before his third birthday, my sweet boy almost died. In fact, according to the doctors, he had about 20 minutes of life left if he hadn’t gotten to the hospital when he did.

His life-threatening food allergies are terrifying. But I don’t like to let them rule our lives. I like him to live his life to the fullest and experience everything any other child would experience – birthday parties, Halloween, traveling.

And somehow, while he’s young, I feel like he can, because he's safe. I feel like I have control over his experiences and his safety. And even when he’s out of the house at school, I know his teachers and friends have his safety top of mind. So sometimes, I actually manage to forget that in a matter of minutes, his life could be gone.

But lately, I’ve been starting to feel a bit more anxious about things. Perhaps it’s the fact that he just celebrated his 10th birthday and suddenly I realize he’s growing up. Or maybe it’s because he’s out of the house a lot more and wanting to be a lot more independent. Suddenly I feel like I’m slowly losing that control.

I worry for his safety more and more which is funny because when he was first diagnosed with his allergies, I thought things would get better as he got older. But now I’m starting to realize that as kids get older, they get more reckless. I think of him as a teenager, going to parties and having a few drinks (I’m not naïve, I know this will happen.) Will his judgment be impaired to the point that he doesn’t consider his health when he has late night fast food? Will his first girlfriend kiss him after eating a peanut butter sandwich and send him into anaphylactic shock? These are the things I now worry about when I think of him growing up.

Recently there was a story of a young 18-year-old girl who suffered an anaphylactic reaction to a smoothie she purchased on her university campus on her second day of school. She died a few days later in hospital. I can’t even imagine how her parents are feeling. This is every allergy parent’s worst nightmare but the fact that this is possible for our own children is our reality.

So how do I plan on getting through the teen and young adult years that will be here before I blink an eye?

I’m not actually sure.

I would love some advice from any other parents out there who have older children with allergies, or perhaps allergies yourselves. I feel like I’m entering new territory and I’m going to need some help navigating it. I'm calling on my tribe for help.



*Note from the author: This post was written 3 years ago. Evan is now almost 13 and advocates for himself regularly. 

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Picture of Karma Bryan Ingle

Author: Karma Bryan Ingle

Karma Bryan-Ingle is the Director of Marketing at Mabel's Labels and a Mom to one fantastic, funny little son. When she isn’t working, she can be found cheering him on at the bottom of the ski hill, or with her nose in a really great novel.

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