I can’t take it anymore. For months, I have been burdened by guilt and knowing that I wasn’t doing the right thing. But, despite my inner feelings, I kept on doing it. As with most fibs, it started as a little thing but it continued to grow. The attention was great but we had started the momentum behind a false identity. Each day, week and month it became a bigger part of what we were and soon became impossible to stop. It had become it’s own entity. Celiac Teen Dad was doing wonderful things in terms of gluten free advocacy but, the truth be told, the name chosen was inaccurate. Celiac Teen Dad should have been Celiac Tween Dad. It just didn’t sound right to me. Tween has a vague definition as to what ages are actually covered by the terminology. Is a ten year old a tween? I don’t know either. So, I lied to everyone. Cam, my oldest child, was a 12 year old Celiac, not officially a teenager. I am ashamed to have mislead you during these past few months, feeling that I have somehow tainted the writer/reader blog relationship code. But when I woke up this morning, it seemed as if a heavy weight had been lifted. I felt it was time for me to share this truth and I have one person to thank for providing me this opportunity. Today, Cam turned 13. Today, I feel no guilt in calling myself Celiac Teen Dad.
Of course, the above paragraph was written in jest. I chose the name that I did knowing that I wanted to provide support and advice for Cam throughout his teenage years. The aforementioned guilt caused by misleading my readers was a joke but there are two things that I mentioned above that are the truth. First, yes, it was Cam’s 13th birthday today and we did all the things that a 13 year old wants to do. He got birthday wishes from his friends on Instagram. We saw all four of his grandparents who showered him with gifts and off-key renditions of “Happy Birthday”. He played countless games of ping pong on his new table and watched a movie about boxing robots. Throw in his favorite meal (still can’t top Mom’s homemade mashed potatoes) and a gluten free chocolate pudding pie and he’s going to bed tonight a happy boy.
The second truth was my thank you to him for providing this opportunity. I know that it’s weird thanking him for being one person in 133 to get an auto-immune disease that causes heart-breaking discomfort but I think of what we have witnessed in these past eight months. Becoming a part of the gluten free community has allowed us to meet so many people and learn that he is not alone in what he feels and that my wife and I are not alone with our questions. Having this condition has given Cam a voice and, though unwanted, an identity that allows him to build his confidence going into his formative years. And most importantly, our journey so far has shown us that there are so many good people out there wanting to help us. From doctors to food service staff to fellow bloggers, we have seen the best of what society has to offer. And to me, that’s one of the best presents that Cam could ever receive. For when his life hits tough moments (and we all know from experience that some of these moments come as a teenager), hopefully he will remember the good he has seen and it will remind him of the support system that he has. From friends to family to complete strangers, it’s this gift of love and comforting that I hope he gets every day. Happy birthday, Bubba. Dad loves you.