I always dreamed of being "That Mom". The one who was on the ball, all together, the one who was there for everything.
The one who was the back up, fall upon mom.
The one with cookies, or brownies, or muffins fresh from the oven.
And then reality struck. When I did volunteer, I ended up ditching them for the ER or a doctors visit. I find myself running late half the time for digestive issues, and I'm always ready to run when my stomach informs me of it's disinclination towards my last meal. (Please note that food allergies/intolerances are not the only thing I struggle with personally, there are definitely MORE digestive conditions going on than simple allergies. People with allergies feel fine when they eat safe food.)
Discovering food allergies allows us a certain freedom. It's certainly much less of a struggle when there are days when I know what good is. It's amazing to see my daughter blossom now that offending foods are out of her diet, it feels so refreshing to be able to send her to a friend's house and know that there's only a slight chance she'll come home sick. As long as I send food, of course.
But the darker side of food allergies (and other health conditions) brought a heightened awareness of what we, as a society, are eating. Reading ingredient list after ingredient list, and having to shake my head at Penguin time and time again sends chills down my spine. If it weren't for the allergies I wouldn't really think about these additives and preservatives. I've always tended towards "healthy" foods, but, when it came to "fun", well...fun is fun. I didn't worry about it, too much.
Now, I see party after party at the school and it just doesn't settle right with me. I see hundreds of pounds of sugar coursing through those tiny developing veins, and then the questionable additives, the Genetically Modified Organisms, and the bright neon colors that stain tongues, teeth and fingers. I feel sad, not because we're left out, but because society has placed a value on food. And that value is in the sharing of what we all agree is junk. Superfluous candy, cupcakes and ice cream complete our lives.
No wonder there's a tendency towards obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
As I look at the list of class parties for the next week, and shudder at the amount of kitchen duty (and cash) it means for us, as I smile under the questioning look of other mothers and field questions about our diets, as I am accidentally cc'd in the mass brownie e-mail, I discover something else.
I've become "THAT mom". Not the one I wanted to be, for sure, but certainly distinct. I'm the seventies era granola, free love, tree hugging hippy food tofu mom. (Except for the tofu part...there's corn in that, too.) People who haven't tried our treats assume them to be the tasteless grapenut-concoction from after-school special nightmares sequences. They shudder and truly feel sorry for our pizza deprived, ice cream deficient home. I'm "That Mom". (The one you don't want in charge of snacks for the brownies meeting.)
And I'm proud of it. (Well, all except the part about Brownies.)