Ode to the Moms of Celiacs

When they give birth, most moms know (or like to think they do!) what to expect. Sleepless nights. Lots of dirty diapers. And a new little human to watch grow into a big human with big dreams and responsibilities. Certain mothers like my own, however, experience another challenge: being the superhero mom to a child with celiac disease.

Especially accurate when celiac disease is involved! (Source)
My mom and I have always been close. I'm a third-generation "mini-me" of her side of the family, and we've been finishing each other's sentences since I began talking. In a late ode to this last Mother's Day, however, I'd like to point out how hard being a mom to a celiac can be. And how grateful I am for the super mom that has raised, loved and strengthened both the gluten-eatin' and gluten free me.

The typical mom watches her children flourish, kisses skinned knees and equips them with the tools to succeed in the big world. My mom has certainly done that, but she's also watched me (literally) whither away from celiac disease complications. She listened to me cry on the phone nearly every night during my freshman year of college, not only because of homesickness, but also because of the nutritional war dominating my underweight body.

Moms don't receive instruction manuals after giving birth that says what to do when children end up in the hospital. But, somehow, my mom knew exactly the right words to say, the right way to hold my hand, and the right (gluten free) treats to pack in her overnight bag. As a baby, I was always hungry - and I never had a problem gaining weight. As a teenager, I had the opposite issue, but at both times, Mom never left my side. And when she could finally hug me without feeling only bones, she hugged me that much tighter.

The typical mom nourishes her children, not only with food, but with words of support and love. Though my mom has never claimed to be a chef, my sister and I never went hungry - especially when the dinner menu included chicken nuggets and mac and cheese. Ironically enough, after I first began having stomach problems, I "found" the gluten free cure myself by accident. I lived off of mom's plain chicken and rice bake, realizing it was the only meal that made me feel "normal" without any clue of why. Then, two years ago this May, I picked up the phone and learned Mom's cooking was literally killing me. And we both made a change.

All the family and all the gluten free treats!
She looked up "gluten" on the Internet with me and checked out all of the gluten free cookbooks from the library. We embarked on our first grocery store run - such a long, label-reading adventure had never before, and luckily has never since, been made - and joined my mourning of bread. Thanks to all of my family's hard work, my house is now 99% gluten free. And, more than even supporting, my Mom also joined me in my fight to live gluten free in a world of bread.

As a newly-discovered gluten intolerant, she understands feeling isolated and awkward at social events. She laughs at the gluten free memes I text her during the day and comforts me if I get glutened. She's not a celiac, but she is a fellow wheat-free warrior. And love is her most effective weapon.

This meme is a personal favorite!

The typical mom includes far more than just the biological mother - the aunts, the grandmothers, the great-grandmothers and beyond. That I can relate to. My Grandma Linda is far from a greens enthusiast, but she always reacts with more curiosity than disgust towards my green-packed dishes. My Aunt Tami loves to send me new (drool-worthy) gluten free recipes on Pinterest and my Grandma Susu cheered on my weight-gain with the same enthusiasm given to a Texas college football game. And, though my sister may be younger, she never fails to "mother" me with lots of bear hugs.

The fact is, we women come in packs. That means that if anyone (or any disease) threatens our pack mate, we'll be there for support, love, and, if necessary, some forceful defense maneuvers. Beyond the emotional support, these "mothers" have never failed to ensure that I am well fed, am included in social eating activities, and know that my dietary restrictions are not a burden.

All the girls!
My mom is more than typical. Just like my diet, she is a persistent, extraordinary, shaping force in who I am today. Her hugs have taught me to be gentle with and love the body I'm in. Her encouraging words have shown me how to talk to myself and others, no matter the circumstance. Her strength has empowered me thrive despite celiac disease challenges. And I can only hope that, many Mother's Days from now, my child can write a similar ode about me.

Because, celiac or no celiac, nineteen years old or younger, my mom has been a constant role model, cheerleader and ultimate hugger. Happy (late) Mother's Day to the best mom (and other mothering figures) out there! 

No better sidekick in crime!

And a late Happy Mother's Day especially to the unsung superheroes mothering a celiac!

How is your mom "atypical?" Does your mom/family make celiac easier? Comment below!


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