Being Vegetarians we have had a whole slew of questions thrust upon us over the years pertaining to how we would raise our children, beginning long before conception and as recently as last week people have asked how will you react if your children choose not to be vegetarians like you when they grow up? Thanks to this line of questioning occurring over and over again I have had the chance to contemplate this scenario ad nauseum. I have, what I think, is a rather rational approach to this dilemma. One that seems like the level headed response that shall be borne from necessity should your child ever choose to snub your belief system. I feel ready and willing to cross that bridge should we ever come to it, and I think that with love and understanding Thanksgiving will still come to pass around here regardless of who has turkey and who does not.
What no one ever brought up and what caught me completely off guard, leaving me wishing someone had asked me how I would handle the situation, was allergies. As I've mentioned before our youngest child is allergic to egg whites, milk and soy. Leaving him, due to our ovo-lacto vegetarain lifestyle, a vegan.
Having never given the vegan lifestyle more than a passing thought I have never realized just how restricting and difficult a diet it truly is. Some things are obviously on the restricted list; scrambled eggs, french toast, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes. Some things it takes a second thought or glance to know they're not ok for someone who is a vegan or has a slew of allergies; any oatmeal of the 'cream' variety as well as those deluxe varieties, dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, Zataran's Yellow Rice (a favorite of mine), 'mock' meat, you get the idea. But even being very diligent there are still times when his face breaks out or he gets a bad diaper rash because I wasn't reading labels carefully enough. Lance Peanut Butter crackers are okay for him (we know from the allergy test he's not allergic to peanut butter or tree nuts) but another brand names Peanut Butter crackers has milk in them and I didn't think to check because the Lance ones are okay. Gerber Veggie Sticks have milk in them leading me to have to give him a dose of benedryl after snack time last Friday. Some sandwhich breads are not okay. All Quaker granola bars have either milk or soy in them. Most cookies and crackers are on the banned list due to other genetically modified foods that are derived from milk, eggs or soy.
It isn't easy or fun yet it's manageable with a little diligence however, the worse part for me is Sean. He is such a laid back, happy, loving baby. He seldom cries and has been our cuddle bug from the start. He rubs my nose with his before a wide mouthed kiss. He's small and quiet, sometimes he gets a little overlooked he's so easy going. And he doesn't know yet that he can't eat moms macaroni and cheese so she hasn't made it in four months. And he doesn't know that he's missing out when we have Chocolate Cream Pie, not yet anyways, but it's already breaking my heart.
I know a food allergy is not really a big deal. He could be a sick child. There could be so many worse things that I won't even begin to travel that line of thought. I know that there are other foods for him to eat, but I find myself thinking at least once a day, please be one of the 85% who outgrow these allergies.
His size doesn't make this predicament we find ourselves in any easier, a child who was born in the 50-75th percentile now finds himself in the -3 percentile. I feel as though I am constantly on the hunt for nutritious and fulfilling things for him to eat. The child has fallen out of love with pureed foods and has never shown much fondness for fruits or green vegetables. I am always worrying if he's gaining enough weight and counting up his grams of protein for the day. Rest assured is no longer in my vocabulary.
He will outgrow these allergies or he will not. We will either way, live through it. If he can never eat real cheese or eggs we will find ways around it. But it certainly will take some getting used to. I keep thinking if I was strong enough or a really good mom, I too would go vegan. Unfortunately, I'm much better at sympathizing than changing.
I do however, choose Jif. I'm hoping that counts for something.