I remember my first Mother’s Day like it was yesterday. My son was five months old, and I was really settling into being a mom. And wow – really understanding the deep, powerful love that a mother has for her child. I recall feeling that I was now living with a certain purpose and knew my role was to do everything possible to keep this amazing little boy safe, happy, and healthy.
So, while I cherish the family time and special attention I have received every year on Mother’s Day since then, I think the observance of Food Allergy Awareness Week (May 11-17, 2014) might be even more important and special to me, and other moms like me. Why? Because my son has severe food allergies. I am a Food Allergy Mother — full of passion and love for my child, and working on a life-threatening health issue.
What does a Food Allergy Mother do? The same thing that other mothers do – plus – she carries epinephrine; teaches others how to recognize reactions and use epi; reads food package labels; carries snacks and sandwiches in case safe food is not available where she and her family go; wipes down tables, chairs, airplane trays and anything that food crumbs or grubby hands might have touched. And, that’s not all. Food Allergy Mothers work with schools and teachers to provide safety for kids with food allergies, they learn to bake and cook with alternate ingredients, they teach their kids to be safe and confident about taking care of their health and safety. And, sometimes they start new companies that provide products and services for other families like theirs. This is part of my passionate path.
I started the Lucy’s cookie brand in 2007 when very few food products were made with special consideration for people with food allergies. Lucy’s cookies are made without gluten, milk, eggs, peanuts or tree nuts. Ingredients are selected to be the least likely to have allergen contaminants and any ingredients from a risk environment are tested. Lucy’s operates as a “dedicated” bakery – meaning that allergens are never present in our bakery. Back when I started the business very few people were doing any of these things; now, many have followed suit. I’m thrilled. That was part of my mission – do something that goes above and beyond, and hopefully inspire others. As more people get involved in this issue – kids with food allergies (and their Moms too!) are better off.
In June 2009, National PTA enacted a resolution to raise awareness and encourage action about food allergies and anaphylaxis management in schools. Since that time, it has been heartening for me to watch PTA bring so much attention to this issue—such as through these informative videos and this great article from Modern Family actor Julie Bowen – a fellow Food Allergy Mom.
PTA local leaders wield so much influence in school communities, and can bring about great change when they are passionate about something. I thank and celebrate all those in the PTA who are getting involved with this issue, and for helping to make our schools safer for kids like my son.
To my fellow PTA moms, and especially to my fellow Food Allergy Moms, today I wish you a very happy and healthy Mother’s Day.
About the Guest Blogger
Dr. Lucy Gibney is the founder of Lucy’s cookie brand. As an M.D. and the mother of a child with severe food allergies, Lucy is dedicated to raising awareness about food allergies and finding practical solutions for fellow parents. To learn more about the promising rise of allergen-sensitive food products, please read this article from the Huffington Post.