I’m linking up with Shell for the first time this week. I’ve talked a lot about Essie’s Celiac diagnosis (if you’re sick of hearing about it…sorry.) but I haven’t really talked about how I’m feeling about it.

Our Essie will be three in July. The day I got the call that she had Celiac disease, I wanted to hug her tight and not let go. I knew that, now more than ever, I was responsible for her health, her safety, her protection.

I’m with her (and the other three) every day. I buy 99.9% of the groceries, I make 90% of our meals. If I didn’t have enough to worry about already, I now get to pack all of her snacks and meals every time she leaves the house. I read every label, look up every iffy food online, research every restaurant.

We live out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by corn fields and tiny towns. We had developed an almost weekly “family pizza night”, going to the closest pizza place (10 minutes away) nearly every Friday night. Now, the closest Celiac-friendly restaurant (pizza or otherwise) is 40 minutes away. I HAVE to cook everything, all day long. There’s no more possibility of an easy, quick, throw-it-in-the-oven frozen dinner. And if there is? It costs twice as much as a regular, gluten-filled frozen meal, and I’ll have to go to a special store to get it (also 40 minutes away).

There’s no more “phoning it in” for dinner anymore, you know? And that just sucks. Because every once in a while, I need a day off.

My heart hurts when she cries for “strawberry scrambles” (Toaster Strudels). Yeah, I know they’re not healthy. I know I should be happy that we’re all eating more whole foods, more homemade foods. But, it’s one thing to give up unhealthy foods as a choice. It’s another to give up your favorite food in the world unwillingly (and frankly, unknowingly). I can barely bake as it is….there’s no way I can whip up a delicious, oozing, strawberry-filled gluten-free pastry. And that kills me.

The older two beg for certain foods (like pizza, of course), and they’re starting to understand that there are things that we can’t have because Essie can’t eat them. I could probably keep “normal” foods in the house. But, I’m already worried enough already. I don’t need to have to worry that Essie will find something she’s not supposed to have. I don’t need to worry that she’ll see something and cry for an hour because she doesn’t understand why she can’t have it, when it’s right there in the cupboard. I don’t want to cook SIX homemade meals a day, for crying out loud.

I know I’m not the first mom to deal with food allergies or health issues, and I’m truly thankful for the others that I have in my life that are willing to help me get through this and support me along the way, and that we can manage this without medications or hospital visits or god forbid, surgery. My husband and our families are learning, too, and doing the best they can, but the sheer weight of this is on me. I’m breaking out like an awkward teenager. I’m sick. I’m stressed out, and overwhelmed, and tired. So, so tired.