When my daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease at 2 ½ years of age my initial feelings were of relief. We finally knew what was making her so sick and she didn’t need a bunch of medication for the rest of her life to make her better. The alternatives that wave through a parent’s mind when they have a sick child are endless, and of course, you always think the worst. Something that could be controlled by diet was going to be a breeze!
Then, the reality of what a gluten-free diet entailed set in. I spent hours in the grocery stores trying to find foods that wouldn’t make her sick. It is a blessing to have been diagnosed so young but have you ever tried taking away a toddler’s favorite foods and replacing them with all new textures, tastes …it was a rough couple of weeks I tell you. Not only was I crying in the grocery store but in the kitchen as well when night-after-night my 2 ½ and 4 year olds picked at their food and refused to eat. They wanted their old stand by’s and so did I!
Fast forward 3 years and I discovered today’s life lesson from a 5-year-old. “Mom, I want to make Gran’s apple sauce.”
“Okay Hannah go for it” I say as I busily type away on the computer.
“Mom, I need your help.” I told her that she would have to do it on her own as I busily Googled this and that.
I force myself to stay at the computer as she climbs on counters to get the supplies she needs: a bowl, apple slicer, cinnamon and the potato masher. She quickly slices her apples and puts them in the microwave. “Mom, I need your help getting the skins off, they are too hot!”
“You just have to let them cool I say”, my nose still in the computer. She finds herself a butter knife and mumbles “oh that’s hot!” as she peels.
“Next, comes the cinnamon” she proudly announces. Luckily something has me really interested as I merely glance at her with an “mmmhhh that smells good” comment. Next is the potato masher and I marvel at her intellect.
“Mom, can we make tarts?”
“Sure,” I reply “go ahead.” The next thing I know she has the muffin tin and frozen, gluten-free, tart shells on the counter and happily fills the shells with her bounty. “How much should I put in mom?” “Wherever you feel is full enough” I smile.
I finally drag myself from the computer to preheat the oven and put them in for her. She watches with pride as they bake and can’t wait for dinner to be over so the whole family can have dessert. Her sister removes the dishes from the table as she fills plates with ice cream and her apple cinnamon tarts. Imagine her delight when everyone raves about her dessert! She was beaming with pride.
“It is because of your guidance and encouragement that she is able to do that” my husband tells me. “She is so healthy and confident because of what you have taught her about herself and the need to be gluten-free.”
I have struggled with ‘what am I going to be when I grow up?’ In other words, where am I going to work when Hannah enters Grade 1 in September? This stay-at-home mom gig is almost up! But, she still needs me and her teachers need me to guide her through so she will continue to stay healthy and thrive out of the gluten-free bubble that I have created at home. No 9-5 Monday-Friday job is going to allow me to do that. I have toyed with becoming a gluten-free consultant for years. But lack of confidence and roadblocks along the way of – it’s not a viable business, you won’t make any money-have steered me away.
My lesson comes to me at 4:30 this morning. Confidence and pride in what you do is all you need. I have taught my daughter how to stand on her own feet in a world surrounded by gluten. She has taught me that I too have the tools; I just need to take two steps forward and take the plunge.
What will happen next? Who knows the possibilities are endless!
Angela Petrie is a gluten-free consultant and publishes this column bi-monthly.
Call her at 868-3830 to learn about her services.