It is every parents proud moment when they realise that their children are taking the independent steps towards adulthood, and then, finally leave childhood behind.
It is a bittersweet time as a parent to realise that for the most part your job is done.
For parents who have children with significant medical problems, that parenting journey has extra layers that many do not have.
That extra concern and worry you have for your adult children and their allergies do not disappear. You simply hope that all the advice you have given them, and the preparation for being a responsible allergic adult stays with them.
The responsibilities for parents of allergic children is a huge learning curve. Juggling the family impact of food allergies and adjusting to keeping your child reaction free. As well as working towards your child being included in all aspects of childhood experience. This is not an easy task to take on board.
Handing over that child to others to care for requires a great deal of ongoing background work. It takes a huge amount of parental confidence to calmly push for the medical care at times your child needs.
It can impact your income, your employment, your food bills, and travel costs to get to your allergy clinic or doctor, and babysitting costs for the other children in the family.
It can also change your home in your efforts to keep control of environmental allergies, your household bills, by freezing soft toys or constant tumble dryer use to avoid pollen. You can spend a great deal on air purifiers, allergy bedding and hepra filter vacuum cleaners.
It can impact your time, which could be spent searching in different supermarkets for safe basic food or food for special occasions. It limits your food choice as you read every label and put many products back on the shelf. It means extra time talking to teachers, school staff about training, management and inclusion in school.
Time spent with extra care of linking allergy conditions, the daily eczema routines, the repeated GP appointments for asthma, skin infections, and environmental allergies, phoning allergy clinic for advice or new appointment after a new suspected allergen discovery.
It can impact your sleep, or the sheer lack of it, not just through infant years but onward to the nightly treatment of eczema that has interrupted sleep, or the asthma that peaks in the night. All this stress can lead to sleepless nights for the parents as they wade through each peak and wave that allergic reactions cause.
It creates trauma, the emotional burden of anaphylaxis events causing a ripple effect from the person who went through the horror of it to those who witnessed it.
On top of all this is the ongoing goal as a parent to teach that child, in a positive way that life is normal, doable and in many, many aspects the same as everyone else.
One of the most helpful support for me as a parent was to meet other parents with similar experience. Meeting allergic adults was a reassurance for the future and gave me a glimpse of what life is like from the allergic persons point of view. As my experience is limited to only being a parent.
I am reaching the end of my parental allergy journey, but as my children are now allergic adults, allergy still has its impact in our family.
The above are some of the reasons I decided to go ahead and organise a conference for the allergy community. A social gathering to meet others, a place to find support from the various organizations and allergy charities and hear speakers from trustworthy reliable sources.
I hope to meet all of you very soon!