An Allergic Marriage
Samantha Yaffe’s frank take on motherhood with allergies.
“Did you ask them about the nuts?” I ask in what I consider a disarming tone, but which may, in retrospect, sound a bit bitchy.
“Ya, I asked them and it’s fine,” he responds in a not-so reassuring tone that tells me he’s lying.
I want to cry. I want to kill him. I want a divorce.
The little one is sitting there emptying all the salt and pepper into the sugar dispenser, and I’m mindful not to implode in front of him or the rest of the members of the tennis club who are quietly enjoying their coffee shop grub. Nonetheless, I proceed to calmly emasculate this unflappable husband of mine with whom I share this anaphylactic toddler whose life-threatening allergies are somehow entirely my responsibility, all day, every day.
OK, so that was two years ago, or rather Year One of our family’s allergic life. Things have changed dramatically since then. Honey would never be so negligent today and I would never be so on his back. In fairness, we’ve both come a long way in the 2 1/2 years since Lucas, our first born, was diagnosed with multiple food allergies (peanuts, tree nuts, egg and unknown). My husband has learned the basics by rote, and I have become advocate mom, 100 per cent dedicated to making our world as safe as humanly possible for the Luke Man and his now 11-month-old brother Judah (whose allergies have yet to be determined).
In fact, I worry so much, research so heavily and educate so continuously that Honey needn’t lose a wink of sleep concerning himself, much less sacrifice a minute of downtime digging for new insights and resources. Thank god for me, right?
Wrong. Honey has never thanked me – not in any way – for turning my life inside out so Lucas can be safe and live a normal existence. For all the heart-wrenching exchanges with parents, teachers, relatives and friends in an ongoing effort to make them understand what’s at stake. For all the groups I’ve joined, books I’ve bought and people I’ve connected with to keep us in the loop. For all the literature I continue to read, synthesize, write and disseminate .…
Don’t get me wrong, I love my man. Truly. He’s a warm, loving, hands-on father and a nurturing lover – kind, honest and generous to a fault. I’ve also always been magnetically drawn to his boyishness – the way he strives for speed over efficiency and brushes over detail like a drunk reading Shakespeare. It’s a perfect juxtaposition to my slow and meticulous ways and a lovely balance to the weight of the world I carry on my shoulders.
Still, despite my trust in Honey’s ability to manage the situation when I’m not around, I find myself resenting his unburdened disposition and the ease in which he entirely defers to me on everything to do with Lucas’s allergies. And let’s face it, it’s hard enough to get that lovin’ feeling when you’re busy juggling your home, children and career. Add a child’s multiple food allergies to the mix and your libido is doubly endangered.
OK, so part of this rant is just natural marital crap. Really, when was the last time any husband thanked his wife for the daily sacrifices she makes for the family? How often does any sleep-deprived, working mom pull out the garters for a late-night romp? Even in the best of times, we moms of the wee are grabbing a bi-weekly quickie and nodding off to sleep feeling gratified that we’ve achieved the impossible, even if we didn’t achieve ….
But back to our allergic life. I’m not saying that a simple “thank you” is going to drop me to my knees (especially since I’ve actually asked him to acknowledge my efforts, which of course ruins the sentiment entirely). And, as I do believe each of us should harness our particular strengths in the relationship, there’s not much chance I’d be willing to let Honey take the lead on the whole allergy affair. But how liberating it would be to hear the words, “Sweetheart, I found this great new website .…” or “Baby, I was thinking we should check out this new support group I’ve been hearing about.”
Just show me we’re in this together, allow me a moment to exhale and, Honey, I’m yours for the taking, garters and all.
Write to Sam at: firstname.lastname@example.org