For those of you who follow me on social media, you will often see 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 food allergic child?
Disclaimer: I do not work for Disney Pixar. I am simply a big fan of this movie because I am a mom who has been through a lot, raising a child with multiple food allergies.
Finding Nemo is a great movie for any family, especially one that has experienced a life changing event.
Now for my Nurse’s Orders:
✅ Watch Finding Nemo.
✅ Put yourself in the character of Marlin.
✅ Bring tissues and get ready for a few belly laughs too, while taking in the sorrows, struggles and joys of life in the ocean.
Settle in and 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, always cheering you on with her simple phrase, “Just Keep Swimming!”
Appreciate her ability to keep moving on. Ironically, it is 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. She simply keeps swimming, asking for help and helping others along the way.
Reflect on Nemo & Marlin’s life changing and traumatic event and the mental scars left behind. Marlin develops perceived limitations of Nemo. His anxiety as a parent and his struggle for total control escalates. His constant reminder to Nemo to “STAY SAFE” sounds all too 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.
But 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, the hidden dangers of food allergens, lurking in our thoughts, constantly pulling us back.
We are afraid to trust others to keep our kids safe. We send them off to school and we are somewhat terrified, just like Marlin.
Then something bad happens and we all go into survival mode. We swim deep down inside ourselves, finding our strengths and never giving up.
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 with his happy little turtles who are unfazed by life.
We finally realize, with the diagnosis of life threatening food allergies, this all takes time, experience, practice and patience.
After all, Crush is 150 years old!
This movie is an incredible parallel to the ebb and flow we experience while traveling the seas of food allergy life.
In the end, because of their struggles, Nemo and Marlin finally figure it out. They find each other safe and sound, more confident and laughing! They find a more balanced life. They have adjusted to their new normal.
Remember how exasperated Marlin and Dory were trying to find Nemo?
Marlin was feeling so sad and defeated. He said, “I promised to never let anything happen to him.”
Dory looked puzzled and responded, “Hmm. That’s a funny thing to promise.”
Yes, it is an impossible thing to promise!
We do our best, but we cannot control everything in this food allergy life.
Despite our best efforts, food allergy accidents will happen to our little Nemos. It’s our job to figure out how to prepare our kids, adapt as a family and keep moving forward.
We embrace our amazing children and ourselves, celebrating our really smart, cool and resilient kids.
Like Marlin finally does, we let go, reminding them we are always there to support them, no matter what!
We trust ourselves and our children. We trust others to help them too.
We realize we’ve done our very best to teach them how to navigate life with food allergies and speak up for themselves.
But we can only achieve this if we “Just Keep Swimming!”
Just an aside…
When adding the movie link to give credit to Disney, they had a recipe for an allergy friendly Finding Nemo smoothie!
Disney is known for how they care for children with food allergies.
You can see from this picture of my kiddo below taken at Disney, they sure do know how to put the safe fun back into eating out at a restaurant again!
For a Disney allergy friendly dessert you can make at home, here is the one I found. Click on the Disney link and make this Finding Nemo Allergy Friendly Smoothie