Happy Birthday, Maddy!

When Maddy turned seven, our family celebrated by beginning a new chapter that was be life changing, helped to raise awareness for those suffering from food allergy, and helped educate people about OIT. Now, as Maddy turns 8, and will begin the 3rd grade, so many possibilities are open to her as a child that doesn't have food allergies standing in her way!

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Check out my other blog, The Best Medicine, about my husband's battle against cancer.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Drawing a Line in the Sand

As a mom, you all know, there is never enough of what we need – money for what we want, let alone need, enough arms to complete our tasks, and certainly enough hours in our day. Projects and deadlines consume our life, take up our energy, and exhaust us. In these recent months I have been reminded, that sometimes, we aren’t able to do it all, even if it all seems ‘essential,’ and there are times we must set aside our career, our committees, and our tasks for the truly important ‘things’ in our life.  A good friend of mine put it to me quite simply, “sometimes you just have to draw a line in the sand,” she said, even if it seems vital; this simple phrase has helped me prioritize lately and has thus changed my life!

Maddy's next step.
For whatever reason, I get into ‘the zone’ each school year come September. When its ‘zone time,’ I feel the need to be Super Mom, Super Teacher, Super Wife, and this feeling overwhelms me, takes over my being and makes me feel as though I can handle being a part of any group, organization, or add any other responsibility to my life that I can sign up for - completely forgetting my personal needs and wants along the way. While being a member of PTO, holding the Room Parent position for Maddy’s class, and being active within our church are important to me, they keep me busy beyond regular work hours pretty regularly.  And though I am on a friendly basis with my co-workers, am able laugh with them at lunch, carry on friendly, yet professional meetings, there are still agendas to fulfill and action items to complete – my work day is filled to the brim, often spilling over! Add one 160-mile round trip drive to the allergist’s office each week and it tends to compound the ol’ “To-Do” list. 

50 mg of peanut flour in apple sauce.
Much like most parents, though, I am stretched to my limit. As it turns out, though, I pretty much suck at knowing my limits. I bite off more than I can chew and then suddenly I’m choking!  And as I get further in age and career, I get worse at this. In the past, I’ve juggled responsibility just fine, but as Jason has recovered, I’ve taken on more and more, believing I can do it all with passion and vigor because I feel it is all important. When it comes to Maddy, the need to be in control and be directly involved because of her peanut allergy is absolutely necessary for a number of reasons - I don’t want anyone to view it or her as a burden, I want her to be safe, and I know that allergy backward and forward - simple, right? In both cases - my husband’s cancer and my daughter’s allergy, I sometimes feel as though I owe it to the world to do more, to give back, “Hey, world, I owe ‘ya one! You save my husband & keep my daughter safe; I’ll solve the problems of the world, one committee at a time!” And so my line in the sand has never existed, until now. 

I knew I had taken on too much when my husband finally let me know enough was enough and he had noticed. It was evident in the amount of work I’d been bringing home at night, weekends, and my stress levels. It was clear that there was a pattern to migraine headaches, zonking out by 11 pm on Friday nights and my sweet mood since school had started. There was no reason for this other than the level of stress, the amount of hours spent in front of the computer, and how little I’d been able to make it home for the bus in the afternoons. The reality was it wasn’t fair to him, my daughter, or me. So when my friend and co-worker told me, “sometimes you just have to draw a line in the sand.” I thought about that. A lot. I used the line. A lot. I have said it so much to my co-teacher that she has given me dirty looks. 

The moment my co-worker actually said it to me was actually not a good one and I was actually kind of pissed at her for not helping me with my problem. Jason and I actually had just been in a good ‘ol fight the night before where some of these same issues had come up. I had been stressed to the max at work. I was trying to go above and beyond to get some things completed - it was a good time to draw that line. I walked away from her, down the hall, walked into another co-worker and broke down, right there at work. It was one of those moments, one of those people you’d never expect to reach out to or have a moment with, but I did and I needed it. Peanuts, action plans, homework, assessments, dinner ideas, curriculum, agendas, dosing schedules… it was all swirling in my mind and not meshing at all. After a moment alone in the bathroom I composed myself, got my act together and faced the day again. The line had been drawn. 

Lucas is moving right along!
It is amazing what a few little words can do to a person. I don’t even think the person who said to me “sometimes you just have to draw a line in the sand,” has any idea the impact that moment would have on me. But at that moment, it meant so much. I often put a lot of pressure on myself to put out the best that I can at what I do. So, when I have my hands in everything, it makes it extremely difficult to put 100% into everything. I have an extremely difficult time admitting defeat and an even more difficult time admitting when I am wrong. So the time had come to make some changes before it was too late. I bet I’m not unlike many other “Super Moms” out there. 

Drawing a line in the sand for me meant this- refocusing.  Maddy’s desensitization is what our family is concentrating on right now. October 3, 2012 was her final peanut solution day and it went off without a hitch! That same day we celebrated with another little boy in the office, Lucas, who got to eat his first peanut. Maddy & Livvie cheered him on while waiting out his dosing hour and he had no problems. Maddy cannot wait for that to be her! 

The following week, October 10, 2012, we entered a new stage in our peanut desensitization journey: peanut flour! It is amazing with what excitement my child attacks OIT. She and Livvie began a project, a drawing of “Peanut Land,” a creative region where even those allergic are safe from the dreaded legume! Livvie and Maddy’s bond over Peanut Land is extraordinary. We are thankful for all this therapy is doing for Maddy, especially the support she is receiving from the kids in the program. She loves to see them each week. They keep her going week to week. 
Peanut Land: A land where no child is allergic to peanuts!

With the mindset that my family needs to be central right now, I set about scaling back, and setting a few new goals for myself. There is no good reason that I need to run around like a crazy woman for my job, for my church, or for PTO. So, I dropped a few committees, said no when asked to join others, and did not raise my hand to participate when asked to help when help was needed. Yes, there was some guilt, but it subsided when the knowledge that others would step up announced itselfPThere is no good reason that myself, or my family shouldn’t come first. Sometimes that line in the sand needs to be drawn in order to keep my sanity, sometimes in needs to be drawn to keep marriage aflame, or refocus my family. It may also mean, it makes me a better teacher actually, or a better board member. In my life, when I take on too much or when I am tempted to do so again, I will remind myself to draw that line, especially now, when my focus is my daughter and my family. They need all of me.


  1. OH dear friend, this was SO what I needed to hear! Thank you for being real and challenging me too- I had been doing pretty well for awhile with saying no, and then this semester I started taking on too much- my friend told me the other day, it is "NO-vember, so say no!":) Thanks for confirming what God has been trying to say to me lately- appreciate it!:)

  2. It is a hard thing to do, Katie! I have to remind myself daily to say No! Sometimes it feels 'easier' to 'just do it yourself!' In the long run though, it ends up not!
    Thank you!