How Baking With A Kid With Allergies Can Still Be Sweet
Chaos is a little more chaotic than usual, as I am dealing with a bad back (translation: getting older). Since I am under strict orders not to sit and type, I have roped in some friends to help me over the next week while I recover.
Today's guest post is from my friend Sharon DeVellis, you may know her from her funny and poignant writing at the Yummy Mummy Club, or from her own personal site: Speed Skating Mom, where she writes about her own transition from couch potato to speed skater and challenges others to try new things. (Maybe she can teach me to skate after I recover?) Her post is about the disconnect between your motherhood fantasies and the reality that can sometimes be sweeter because of the struggle. And it has coloured icing in it.
When I was pregnant with my first son, I had visions of what life would be
like after he was born. The peaceful moments spent gazing lovingly upon his
face as he grasped my finger, rocking him in my arms while singing
lullabies, all while fitting in my post-partum exercise routine between
loads of laundry.
And, of course, when he was older, we'd be baking cookies like I used to do
with my mom.
Then reality came and smacked me upside the head with what felt like a large
My son didn't sleep, I didn't know the words to any lullabies, four months
after he was born I was still wearing maternity pants, and at fifteen months
of age, after visiting numerous doctors and multiple trips to the ER, he was
diagnosed with severe allergies. Our son was allergic to all nuts,
shellfish, wheat, dairy, eggs and strawberries to be exact. Oh, and you
should probably keep him away from seeds too.
Feeding him was a challenge. Baking? Near impossible. Our baking experience
had been narrowed down to him playing with rolled oats in a Tupperware
container on the kitchen floor.
Fast forward a few years and the happy day came when wheat and dairy were
crossed off his allergy list. But we were still left with the rest, egg
being the most severe. Simply touching egg could bring on a reaction - his
epi-pen was a constant companion. Even though he could do things like
measure dry ingredients into bowls or mix and stir, we never wanted to take
a chance. The baking memories weren't worth the epi-pen injection and
ambulance ride memories.
We did plenty of other fun things together. His toddler years certainly
weren't deprived. But the happy memories of our childhood have a certain way
of taking hold, making us want to relive them with our children. It's how
traditions are made. I wanted to pass these happy memories on to my son.
It was memories that finally gave me a baking solution.
While going through an old photo album I came across a picture of my sister
and I as kids decorating Christmas cookies, smiles plastered on our faces,
flour strewn over the countertop. It all came back to me in a flash flood of
memories. We had been decorating shortbread cookies.
I went out and got the ingredients and we were good to go. We measured,
mixed, stirred, rolled and pressed cookie cutters into dough. He struggled
to learn how to scrape the cut dough off the countertop with a spatula and
transfer them to the baking pan. Then we decorated the shapes with sparkling
coloured sugar; there was more sugar than cookie. They were to bake for
eight minutes, an interminable time for a young boy. He spent the time
peering in the window on the oven door waiting for the timer to announce the
cookies were done. Finally the familiar ding sounded and we took them out to
The cookies were misshapen from the failed transferring attempts and you
couldn't tell the snowman from the snowflakes. They weren't even close to
resembling the beautifully decorated cookies pictured in the recipe book -
more Tim Burton than Martha Stewart. But to him, to him, they were the most
beautiful cookies in the world. These were cookies deserving a place in the
finest of bakeries. We waited for them to cool and he took a bite of his
creation, his face bursting into a grin as he chewed. "These are the best
cookies I've ever had mom"
It was magical.
Exactly as I had envisioned it.