If you follow me on social media, you have seen my mantra from Finding Nemo, “Just Keep Swimming!” or a little fish emoji.
What in the world does this have to do with parenting a child with food allergies?
I do not work for Disney Pixar. I am a just big fan of this movie. Why? I am a mom, who has been through a lot, while raising a child with multiple food allergies.
✅ Watch Finding Nemo.
✅ Put yourself in the character of Marlin.
✅ Bring tissues. Get ready for a few belly laughs too, while taking in the sorrows, struggles and joys of life in the ocean.
✅ Let the music fill your heart, as you drift away on a parenting adventure.
Think of Nemo as your child, and Dory as your inner voice, with her simple phrase, “Just Keep Swimming!”
Appreciate her ability to keep moving forward. Ironically, it’s her forgetfulness that allows her to live in the present moment. Her kindness and sense of humor are also her greatest strengths. She doesn’t hold onto stress and she’s slow to anger.
Dory keeps swimming, asking for help and helping others along the way.
There are so many mental scars left behind from Marlin and Nemo’s trauma. As a result, Marlin develops perceived limitations of Nemo, to protect him from any harm.
Marlin’s anxiety and struggle for total control, escalates. He constantly reminds Nemo to, “STAY SAFE!” That sure does sound familiar, right?
Like Nemo, our children long for adventure. They want to be part of their school of fish and explore the world around them.
It’s scary out there in the big blue sea, if we choose to see everything as threatening.
We have the fear of the unknown, lurking in our thoughts, pulling us back.
We are afraid to trust others. When the time comes to send our kids to school, we are somewhat terrified. Much like Marlin does on Nemo’s First Day of School, we put on a brave face, and push through our fears.
In school, Nemo tries to prove himself and touches “the butt” (meaning, the boat- ha!). Unfortunately, Nemo gets trapped; however, this is when Marlin and Nemo truly discover themselves.
Similarly, when we are faced with a food allergy challenge, we make a choice. We can either freeze with fear, or swim deep down inside ourselves, and discover our strengths.
It’s often in the face of adversity, we find courage!
We meet some incredibly inspiring people along the way, who show us how to get back out there and surf the wave of food allergy life.
“Duuuude!” We wish we were as relaxed and carefree as Crush. We envy him, and his happy and unfazed little turtles.
We learn surfing the waves of food allergy life takes practice, experience and patience.
By the way, Crush is 150 years old!
In the end, Marlin and Nemo find each other, safe and sound. They’re even more confident and laughing! Marlin finally sees Nemo for his strengths.
As Marlin eventually does, we learn to trust ourselves and our children in this food allergy life. We do our best to trust others too. We strive for balance and gain confidence. We dust off our sense of humor and find joy again, in the simple things. When a wave knocks us down, we try again.
We embrace both our children and ourselves. We celebrate our kind, smart, cool, resilient and brave kids. We show ourselves some grace too, as we stumble, fall and get back up again, and again. After all, parenting a child with food allergies is not for the faint of heart!
Most importantly, we Remember:
Courage is a Decision.
“Just Keep Swimming!” Food Allergy Family.
I’ll be there in spirit, cheering you on.
For more food allergy empowerment, evidenced based information and support, you can find me on Facebook, where I co-lead the Friends Helping Friends Food Allergy Support Group.