20 Ways a Gluten-Free Diet Prepares You to Be the Best Mom or Dad Ever

It occurred to me as I was dutifully packing my own lunch the other day that I’m getting pretty good at this. Maybe not Pinterest good, but I could definitely do a bento box. I’m totally ready to be someone’s mom!, I thought.

I started wondering what other overlap my GF lifestyle has with parenting, and I came up with quite a list. Can you relate?

  1. You pack lunches every day (“love you” notes to yourself probably not included, but I bet you’d rock it).
  2. You’ve lost all discomfort discussing and dealing with poop. Accidents (and maybe vomit) included.
  3. You plan ahead—obsessively—in often vain attempts to prepare for all eventualities.
  4. You spend a significantly larger portion of each day feeling stressed than relaxed.
  5. Looking and feeling pregnant are not foreign to you. (However, if reports are true, no celiac-induced pain you’ve experienced rivals childbirth. Comforting?)
  6. You cook three meals a day, not (necessarily) because you like to, but because someone has to.
  7. You grapple with preparing single meals that satisfy a group of people with completely different wants and needs (allergies, vegetarian/veganism, low-carb, paleo, lactose intolerance, likes and dislikes, and of course gluten-freedom).
  8. You document everything, even the most insignificant milestones: First gluten-free homemade flour blend! First from-scratch cookies! First time eating out! First holiday!
  9. You carry snacks in your bag (and sometimes baby wipes—nothing gets gluten off like ’em).
  10. You’re always tired.
  11. You just know when someone is lying to you (though sometimes after the fact).
  12. You shamelessly ask people to wash their hands before eating. (Only if you’ll be sharing finger food after they just ate, say, fried chicken in front of you. And, okay, there’s a bit of shame.)
  13. You’ve also been known to ask suspiciously, when someone last brushed his/her teeth.
  14. You take grocery shopping very seriously . . .
  15. and keep an eagle eye out for deals. GF food’s not cheap!
  16. You understand the importance of a good burp.
  17. You’re used to not having much of a social life outside of your home.
  18. You’re extremely familiar with saying “no.”
  19. The first thing you look for in any new place is the bathroom.
  20. Sometimes, you can’t remember what life was like before all this. And if a cure is discovered within your lifetime, you’re not totally sure you’ll know what to do with yourself.

See? Child-rearing and chronic disease, two of life’s enduring mysteries, are essentially the same. Both look just . . . like . . . this (with Snyder’s of Hanover GF pretzels, of course):

Yes, I focused on one particular set of symptoms (that is, mine), which many people with gluten-related disorders may not have; there’s a laundry list of other possible symptoms, including infertility (which makes becoming a parent a bit tougher, though certainly not impossible).

And, yes, there are some ways in which they differ. For example:

  1. GF bread prices and loaf sizes being what they are, you do not cut off the crusts.
  2. Celiac disease doesn’t demand bedtime stories—though I’ve got you covered if it ever comes up.
  3. Strollers and playgrounds are also optional.

There’s one more, utterly crucial distinction: When you yourself are gluten-free, all that extra energy you expend and stressing you do are about YOU. Taking responsibility for your own well-being is admirable (and, for many of us, critical), but as a parent you must take that endless worry, attention to detail, and physical and emotional care and turn them outward.

If it’s your child who eats gluten-free, you already understand that. For those of us who aren’t yet but may become parents, assuming a cure doesn’t come, we’ll continue to manage our own diet while caring for the tiny human beings in our charge. We’ll be taking the “tired” we feel and doubling it, at least.

That, more than anything on the list above, makes parenting sound pretty intimidating. From what I hear, though, it’s pretty fulfilling work—so if anything is stopping you from having kids, I hope celiac disease isn’t it. Some (far-off) day, I won’t let it stop me!

Am I missing anything on my lists of similarities and differences? Parents, did I get any of this right?

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8 thoughts on “20 Ways a Gluten-Free Diet Prepares You to Be the Best Mom or Dad Ever

  1. cav513 says:

    Mom will be so glad to see the “far-off” disclaimer, although I would point out that we had Patrick, at his current age of 26, and aside from some regrettable genetic contributions to you girls, didn’t do too badly starting “young” (at least as it’s accounted these days).

    • Molly says:

      Well, I say “far off” for a number of reasons, but not least among them is that, unlike you and Mom, I don’t think I’ll be marrying any of my junior high school best friends (or boyfriends, for that matter). Bit of an unfair disadvantage there!

  2. jsherwin2013 says:

    Molly: Your list is great, and I admire your ability to fashion a list since you are not a parent, yet. You did, however, miss two crucial components–chronic lack of sleep during your child’s first, say, four months of life (and every time your child can’t sleep) as well as the compassion and patience needed to calm a hyperactive child or one who is having a temper tantrum. Parenthood is a serious undertaking, and I would love to see adult education classes that address its realities and provide guidance to first-time parents. Always love your posts! Jennie

    • Molly says:

      Thanks, Jennie! I used my imagination and reports in books and blogs by real parents. You make very good points. I’ll add that some people suffer from insomnia due to gluten-related disorders and therefore also lack sleep, and that managing celiac takes an awful lot of patience…so there you go, 22 ways, now! 🙂

  3. Casey says:

    HAHA! I LOVE this list Molly. If there’s anyone who can make me smile about having to eat gluten free, it’s always you! Great post and great point!

    • I second this. 🙂 I can’t have kids because of my lupus but wanted to have them more than anything in the world. Can you imagine how hard it would be to juggle our own health issues and the completely different ones of the kids? It seems so daunting. But still I’d give anything to have to do the juggling. 🙂

      • Molly says:

        Thank you, guys! That’s what I’m here for. (That, and obsessively documenting like the future mom blogger I hope to be.)

        And Jennifer, completely agree that it sounds very daunting, and I’m very sorry to hear you say it’s not possible for you! I definitely plan to wait until I’m as sure as possible that I’m ready for it, including healthwise.

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