A week or two ago, I received an email from author Susan Weissman. I’ll confess, that up until that moment, I had not heard of her. Susan is the mother of a child with severe food allergies and asthma and Feeding Eden is her first book.
I don’t take my reviews of products lightly. My first duty is to you, my reader, to provide my blunt and honest response when I am reviewing any kind of product, be it a book, food, or a website.
Another confession…I sometimes cringe when I’m asked to review a book because I fear that it will have wild, unfounded suggestions and claims that are so outrageous, you instantly understand why the food allergy community is so misunderstood.
Gladly, this was not the case with Feeding Eden.
Although I can’t say that all of her choices would be the same choices for my child and myself, Weissman actually recognizes that point of view in her book and ultimately encourages moms to do what is best for their personal situation. I applaud her for not caving to the one-size-fits-all recommendations made in some food allergy literature.
There were moments where it was if Weissman’s own fears and feelings were so reminiscent of my own, it was as if she had a window into my soul. She’s walked miles in the shoes of mothers of children with food allergies and asthma everywhere…she gets it.
Her introduction is titled, “Crazy” and was perhaps the chapter that hooked me…the moment when I knew she knew exactly how it felt to be a food allergy mom. My of my favorite lines is, “When I try to tout my sanity to teachers and friends – ‘Oh, and I try not to get too crazy’ – Crazy laughs its a** off in the corner and continues to flit and fly all around.” I think most of us have had this feeling of trying to play it calm, cool and collected when we feel anything but.
On her journey through a parade of dozens of pediatricians, specialists, therapists, and more I learned a lot…about myself, my son, and our own parade of physicians. There are times when the detail was so overwhelming it would have been easy to begin skimming, but without giving away too much, I can only say the detail is there for a reason. Read it and learn from it.
Weissman chronicles what it is like to be the mother of a child with food allergies and all the ups and downs that come with it. Like many of us, I suspect, Weissman is resentful of her situation in the beginning. She eventually makes peace with the situation and shares a rather poignant sentiment: “I stopped wishing I were a different person…Instead of becoming invisible to myself, I could look directly into the eyes of other parents and think: somewhere, sometime, within the context of your own lives, you are me.”
Can you imagine how different the world might react toward the food allergy community if we all shared that sentiment? Too often it is easy to get caught up in how “unjust” or “unfortunate” our own burdens are and we don’t stop to consider that another’s burdens, although different from our own, are just as consuming.
I especially loved Weissman’s blunt and open account of her feelings…it felt like a big hug from a fellow food allergy mom. When I read the following, I teared up at the comfort and validation it gave me: “Despite all our very best parenting efforts – vitamins, rest, sports, Ritalin, homeopathy, yoga, Claritin – there are mornings many of us parents will lean over our coffee cups and listen to the distant sounds of our children waking and wonder if today will be the day their head cold or indigestion or anxiety or adenoids or teething pains or leg cramps or some other weakness will get the best of them.” She goes on to say, “We parents can’t make magic. We can’t transform our children. But we can heal with our touches, our words, and our love. We can show them how to take their medicine. When we do this, our children can save themselves.”
Bottom line: Susan Weissman’s Feeding Eden was a lovely book written with intelligence, humor, and a rare candidness that will speak warmly to mothers of children with food allergies and asthma everywhere!
*Special Note: All excerpts from the book are printed with express permission from the author.*