Well, we finally did it! Lauren and I went on a trip together, just us two food allergy moms.
A few months ago, we were thrilled to receive an invitation to attend the Food Allergy Meet Up in Brea, California from the Instagram account @allergicemma (click HERE for their website) a food allergy ambassador for the Red Sneakers for Oakley organization.
And of course, we immediately started processing whether or not we could realistically fly out for the weekend.
We decided we needed to go for it!
It has literally been YEARS since either one of us did anything for ourselves.
Lauren and I love creating food allergy content together to help support other moms, so this was the perfect opportunity to continue our advocacy as well as take a short reprieve from constantly having to be “on” as food allergy moms.
But as I’m sure you already know, leaving our children’s medical and food allergy care in the hands of other people can feel daunting, even if we have amazing individuals in our circle.
Honestly, we really hadn’t left our children for an extended period of time since their diagnosis. After chatting together, and talking with our incredibly supportive spouses, we decided it would be a great experience for everyone.
Our husbands would get to have a special weekend of fun to create memories with our kids, and we would get to connect with families in California also walking the food allergy journey.
Clearly, it was a win-win.
Planning and Preparation
Without a doubt, the food safety was our biggest concern. We planned every meal and snack extensively before leaving.
Pantries were stocked full of our children’s safe brands. The fridges were brimming with days worth of safe meals, ready to serve.
I mean, as far as planning goes, Lauren and I were killing it.
Countless hours of unseen prep work went into making this situation as manageable as possible. We wanted our very capable husbands to be fully supported and cared for in our absence.
Not only that, but we wanted to be able to spend our weekend away from our families free of mom guilt and worry.
With safe food and emergency care plans ready to go, our families were ready, and then we were off!
We Felt Nervously Excited
I won’t lie to you – there might have been a few tears on our part leaving our babies to go have a fun weekend by ourselves.
After years of self-sacrificing and managing overwhelming anxiety around our children’s medical needs, it just felt “wrong” to not be there to care for them.
Instead of pulling a sharp U-turn right in the middle of the highway, we forged ahead, trusting that this trip would be a growth experience for all of us.
But the Reality is That Food Allergy Moms Are Always “On”
The first leg of the trip started off fairly flawless.
Near perfect weather greeted us as we hopped off the plane in California. We were randomly upgraded to a fancy-smancy BMW rental and given a King suite at our hotel.
That’s luxury living right there for two tired food allergy mommas.
Differing from what we are used to, Lauren and I both were able to sleep in for the first time in ages. Truly, it was such a glorious morning of rest as we prepped for the seminar.
But again, a food allergy mom is always “on” – even if she is thousands of miles away from her kids. Our mom gut is more accurate than any technology in existence, and one of ours started going off.
I kid you not, right before we got into the car to drive the two minutes over to the Food Allergy Meet Up, we got a call from home.
Sure enough, there was an unforeseen situation with one of the kids. Adrenaline pumping, we ran through all possible scenarios and possible causes for what was occurring.
It’s terrifying to experience your child’s symptoms when you are physically present, but being thousands of miles away and hearing it play out over the phone is a new level of gut-wrenching terror.
Due to that feeling, we started looking for immediate flights home, while also needing to be present for the event that was literally starting as this all was going down.
And although we were able to confirm that the kids were safe, we were deeply shaken.
It Just Felt Awful
To us, it again felt like we were “wrong” and “irresponsible” for having left our kids in the first place.
Was that true? Absolutely not.
But when you are in the throws of an adrenaline rush based off pure terror, it’s hard to think kindly and logically.
Lauren and I took a series of deep breaths and started addressing the anxiety that we are all too familiar with. We knew that our children were currently safe and that our spouses were caring well for their needs.
Finally, we started feeling more grounded.
We were able to clear our minds and focus on the here and now of where we physically were. And we are so thankful that we were able to participate in such an amazing event!
Talk about an incredible group of food allergy advocates!
The Food Allergy Meet Up
Meeting the Food Allergy All-Stars
That afternoon, we were honored to finally meet two amazing human beings that we follow on Instagram. Emma from @allergicemma and Natalie from @detectiveharleyfadd with her trusty four-legged friend, Harley.
Immediately, I was struck by how confident Emma was in her interactions with others. She shook my hand firmly as she introduced herself and my heart grew about two sizes larger after seeing her sweet smile.
Watching this amazing young lady throughout the event was truly a sight to take in.
To me, it was like I was seeing the future of my children play out in front of my eyes. Hearing Emma’s story and watching her boldly and courageously conversing with other people about food allergy life gave me immense hope.
Our children are amazing people.
Food allergies might be difficult to live with, but it will not stop our children from adventuring or living their best lives.
Detective Harley & Natalie
Have you ever felt comforted by a warm cup of coffee and felt lighthearted peace at the start of a new summer day?
That’s what it was like being in the presence of Natalie and her golden retriever, Harley. Harley is an allergy alert service dog working to keep one of her precious humans safe.
We have been following her food allergy advocacy account for over a year. To say we have a lot of respect for her work is an understatement!
Upon us entering the conference, Natalie smiled from across the room and embraced us with warm hugs. Though we were meeting her in-person for the first time, it felt like we had just hugged a long lost friend.
It was amazing to finally meet this amazing duo in person and to see how far their advocacy has expanded. They have a FREE food allergy app for children that just debuted!
We highly suggest checking it out and downloading their app. Find the link HERE.
It should be noted that we were 100% fan-girling for the duration of our conversation with Natalie and Harley!
Chef Keith Norman
Chef Keith Norman is a friend of Emma’s family. When he was introduced, his bright personality immediately shone throughout the room.
He had us laughing with his fun humor and quick witted remarks. And then he started talking about his story and his desire to safely cook delicious food for people with food allergies.
Chef Keith spoke about his “babies” – which were all the young people he had met over the years that he had safely cooked for that keep coming back to his restaurant to eat his food. Many of whom come from out of state just to see him!
My favorite thing that he said from his speech was the following quote:
“I believe everyone deserves a place at the table.”-Chef Keith Norman
Y’all, I literally wanted to walk up to this man and hug him for the work he is doing for food allergy advocacy in the culinary world. I didn’t, because he didn’t know me and that would have been weird. 🤣
But you better believe that we are planning a trip to Las Vegas soon so that both my sweet babies have an opportunity to eat at his restaurant.
You can read more about Chef Keith Norman and the South Point Hotel and Casino in Nevada HERE.
Kendall Renee is clearly a talented singer and songwriter! After watching her performance, we found her on Instagram and quickly followed her.
Here is her handle: @kendallreneemusic
Kendall also happens to have food allergies herself. She shared a bit of her story on how growing up with food allergies impacted her and then sang several songs that she had written herself.
When the lyrics to her “Better Is Coming” piece began, I was choking back tears.
Indeed, you could hear the sniffles around the room. Kendall was another embodiment of hope. Our children can and WILL overcome hard things.
They will grow up strong. Nothing but hope is dawning in their futures.
Kendall’s music is soaringly beautiful and soul touching. We highly recommend checking out her account on Instagram and YouTube.
What We Learned
Afterwards, we headed back to our hotel, fully prepared to go to the airport. The tickets were booked.
Then, we talked again with home. And although the situation had been challenging and scary, we were able to confirm that it was not food allergy related. We now knew that everyone was resettled and the situation was under control.
Our spouses actually encouraged us to stay and come back the following night as planned so that we could still enjoy our fun day we had planned for Sunday.
Armed with that knowledge, and further talked off the cliff by our spouses, we decided not to pack up and leave that night.
Though it was a bit of a heart thumping trip, we are still glad we did it. We safely pushed ourselves outside the limits of our comfort zones.
And due to that, several important things happened:
- We were able to do something for ourselves as individuals for the first time in a long time.
- Our husbands were able to have true one-on-one time with our kids making special memories.
- We connected with some beautiful souls that also know all too well the journey of raising children with severe food allergies.
- We had to practice letting go of controlling everything and confidently rely on others to take care of our kids’ safety.
Our trip is a perfect example that not everything will always go smoothly or perfectly, but it can be done.
We can hold space and respect for our “mom” identity, but that we also deeply deserve to hold a place for our personal experiences and care as human beings.
Because we are worth it. Our friendship is worth it. This life is WORTH it.
Wishing you a peaceful week of love and hope, friends.
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