From the day our children are born, we are marking time by milestones. First smile, first solid food, first step. Before we know it, it’s the first day of school, first sleep over, first crush. Each milestone creates distance– small steps helping to prepare parent and child for the day when the child leaves the nest.
My generation of mothers have been labeled “helicopter moms” because we are constantly hovering over our children. And it is one of my greatest trials as a parent to learn to let go. Food allergies and T1 add to the challenge…how do I let go and keep my children healthy? In reality, all parents face this same challenge. For some of us, the challenge is physical and clearly definable. For others, the challenges lie within. I remember #1 son-a wise beyond his year’s 10 year old- saying “All 5th graders have issues, Mom.” I think it is safe to paraphrase that and say “All people have issues.”
#1 son’s issue is the food allergy. For 14 years, I”ve been the parent who goes on every field trip. But the time has come to let go and let him manage his “issue” on his own. He has spent the past three days attending a Model UN conference and has been completely on his own regarding his lunch and dinner. He has had to go to unfamiliar restaurants, inform the wait staff of his allergy and make his own decisions about what to eat. Yeah, I know what you are thinking…he’s 14…of course, he should be ordering his own food! We’ve been encouraging that for years…but when Mom and Dad are around it is always easier to defer to them, especially when eating at new restaurants. It has been easy for him to order safe foods at his favorite places as he already know what he can have to eat. I love that he has had this opportunity to be completely independent and spontaneous.
As his 15th birthday approaches, I’ve been thinking a lot about him getting his driver’s license. So hard to believe that he can begin learning to drive in just a few months. A huge milestone! A huge leap into adulthood….am I ready? Lately, I find myself in conversations with other parents about how difficult all this chauffeuring kids around is becoming. In my case, two kids at two different schools with at least 4 clubs/afterschool activities and 2 sports going on in any given week. This is all part of the master plan to make parents actually a little relieved to have an additional driver in the house! Okay, only just a little bit…
As a parent, whether your child has T1 or a food allergy or any other “issue” the greatest gift we can give them is the skills to take care of themselves. I once heard that the most important skills a child can have are these 3R’s: be “Respectful, Responsible, and Resourceful.” I’ve tried to live this way: be respectful of yourself and others, be responsible for yourself and your belongings, and be resourceful–if you don’t know something, find a way to figure it out.
As I took a break from writing this, I checked out my FB page and there was this quote: “One of the best actions we can take along with courage, is also to relax…” Thanks to Mommy, What is Diabetes?
So relax all you parents out there and have a great weekend!