“You can choose courage or you can choose comfort. You cannot have both.” -Brene Brown
”Um, yes you can.” -me
Molly and our family have received an outpouring of support and love in the aftermath of her food challenge, for which we are so grateful. The outcome of the day was positive in so many ways: Molly did not get sick or need an epipen, she was able to tolerate the baked egg muffin, she was brave and persevered. We have a path forward to hopefully rid her body of at least one food allergy.
Though the outcome was positive, the day itself was terrible. It was one painstaking bite after another - emphasis on the pain. It felt like the Olympics of parental patience. I was certain Molly would be traumatized by the experience. She was very expressive of the difficult feelings she was experiencing - both physical and emotional - all day. I lay in bed that night thinking that I’d never get her to eat anything with baked egg ever again, regardless of whether she passed the challenge, so upset and in pain she had been all day. How was I going to convince her to eat something with baked egg every single day for the foreseeable future?
The next day, Molly woke up and seemed her usual delightful self. I asked her how she was doing and how her body was feeling. She told me she slept well and felt fine. Then she said, “Could you make Irish Soda Bread with eggs? I’ll be happy to eat that everyday. I just don’t really like muffins.” My jaw dropped. And then I was reminded - pain is inevitable, trauma is optional.
Since Molly was born, she has been an example of the truth that when we have the courage to truly engage in and feel our feelings, we are able to let them go and move on. It is when we hold on to our feelings, reliving them and letting our minds create stories around those feelings, that we become traumatized. This book has helped me so much as a parent of a child with food allergies, a parent of a child without food allergies, and a human in the world. It is a manual I turn to again and again to help my children feel their feelings without being defined by them.
Molly asking for one of her favorite comfort foods - Nan’s Irish Soda Bread, no raisins - combined with something that brought her discomfort - the eggs - is another way in which Molly is an example to me. When life demands courage and resilience, treat yourself well so you can be at your best to rise to the occasion. Comfort and resilience are not opposites. The more I think about it, the more I think you can’t have one without the other. We must be resilient to truly be comfortable with ourselves as life changes. And we must be able to comfort ourselves in order to remain courageous and resilient. So, although I love Brene Brown and am devouring her latest book, I have a slightly different interpretation of the relationship between courage and comfort.
Last night, Molly started her baked egg “medicine” - and as she predicted, she was happy to eat the Irish Soda Bread. With Earth Balance butter, of course. Bread and butter. Resilience and comfort.