Allergy Mom

Name: Amy Schwabe
Kids: Two girls, Alex (10) and Wendy (6)
Works: stay-at-home mom, blogger, freelance writer
Favorite part about being a mom: watching my girls develop personalities and habits that are a lot like those of my husband's and mine, but also uniquely their own
Least favorite part about being a mom: trying to find balance -- in everything -- the line between being too overprotective vs. too free-range; the line between overscheduling so we don't miss anything we want to do and being more spontaneous so we can enjoy just a few of the things we want to do; the line between sheltering the kids so they don't make any mistakes and being so hands-off that they make too many mistakes
Famous for: having so many books that guests are free to use my home as a lending library (although my younger daughter says I'm famous for cleaning the house)

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Changing Roles -- Evolving as a Parent

When I became a parent nine years ago, I quit my full-time job as a research analyst. At that job, my life had revolved around two of my favorite things, reading and writing. Now my life would revolve around the responsibility and wonder of taking care of this brand new person.

Three and a half years later, my role as protector and nurturer of my child, Alex, became more complex when we found out she is severely allergic to peanuts and eggs. I was suddenly thrust into the role of protecting my daughter from innocuous things – things that to most people were mealtime staples. To us, they became poison.

Shortly after Alex's allergy diagnosis, our second daughter Wendy was born, and I added another awe-inspiring bundle of joy to my everyday responsibilities.

For three and a half years, it was Alex and me during the days – hanging out together, going places together, playing together, doing chores together, just living life together.

Alex and me, hanging out at home

When Alex started school, it was three and a half years of Wendy and me finding our own rhythm to our days and living life together.


Wendy and me during a trip to the hair salon

During the few weeks before Alex started kindergarten, I would often find myself gripped with anxiety over the uncertainty of what school would bring, and what her being away from me during the day would do to our relationship.

Now I'm in the midst of those few weeks before Wendy starts school, and I'm having the same feelings. I actually didn't think I would be affected the same way I was with Alex since there's so much less uncertainty. I know the school, I know the teachers, I know from my experience with Alex that although Wendy's and my relationship will change, it will be okay, and I won't lose my little girl.

I actually thought I'd be excited. After all, after nine years of spending my days focused on my kids, I will have at least a little bit of time to spend on what I've been missing for so long – reading and writing.

But I'm feeling the same anxiety. Maybe it's inevitable. Part of it must be that I'm mourning the end of my little girl's early childhood. She's growing into a big girl now. The thing is, I'm not one of those people who needs to have a baby around, who is so into the early years that I get baby lust once my youngest child's babyhood is over. I'm actually very good at appreciating and enjoying the stages that my children are in. I don't want to go back to when my kids were babies and toddlers. I did that, loved that, and now I'm loving who they are at their current ages.

But, still, it's hard to let go of this time. It's hard to come to terms with never having this time with my girls again.

My personal blog is about being a parent of a child with severe food allergies. It's about how we navigate all the everyday encounters with allergens that we go through. It's about how all the normal facets of parenthood are colored by a new perspective when there are food allergies to deal with. In future MetroParent blog posts, I want to explore those topics. But sometimes I think it's important to realize that even parents who have children with special needs are still parents. Not everything in my life is about allergies.



Alex and Wendy rocking their balloon hats at this year's FARE Allergy Walk

Right now, at this moment, the issue that is foremost on my mind is entering this new phase of life. I'm going to have to figure out how to deal with my girls being more independent from me, how to be a parent who doesn't participate in every moment with my children, how to maintain a strong attachment and close involvement in my children's lives as they build their own communities.

After almost a decade of my focus being stay-at-home parenting, I'm going to be able to build my career. My main priorities are still going to be raising my family, and to be honest, I'll still be spending the bulk of my days with my girls, especially since Wendy is just going to half-day kindergarten.

But I will have most mornings to concentrate on writing; in a lot of ways, this is the perfect time to be starting my blog here. I'll be able to share this transition with you; hopefully, I'll learn some valuable lessons that I can write about, and I'm sure I'll be able to gain some wisdom from some of you who have been through this.

So although I have some anxiety and mixed feelings about entering this new phase of parenting, I am also excited. Join me on my journey!

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