A friend recently gave me an article on 4 blind moms featured in “Real Simple” magazine. I was immediately struck by the beauty and strength of each woman, and I was a bit jealous of them for having such close blind friends. One of the women, Joy (great name!), talked about how they are each in awe of one another’s feats. “It’s like each of us has mastered a skill or has a bravery that the others don’t.” They all have guide dogs and are starting a national group called “Mommies With Guides”.
One of the things they discussed in the article was what they do differently as parents without sight. This got me thinking about my own parenting, and while I do have some vision, there are definitely some skills I have had to develop as a mom with low vision in order to be a good mom. Some of these are still works in progress, but they’re definitely the “muscles” that get the most use, and therefore the most strength.
- ESP: One of the moms in the article said that since she can’t see her kids’ expressions to know whether they’re sad, happy, angry, etc. she ends up doing a lot more talking about feelings than most parents. I do a fair share of talking with my girls, especially right before bed. However, any parent out there knows that kids aren’t always eager to do a lot of talking when they’re upset. I have learned to sense into their emotions— from obvious times when they run with angry footsteps to their rooms or more subtle times when they seem quieter than usual.
- An honorary Ph.D in Organizational Planning and Transportation: I probably spend at least 20 minutes a day planning and scheduling rides to various activities , appointments and functions, and my guess is this time will increase as my youngest begins entering the world of extra-curriculars in a few years. I would say that I was born with decent planning skills (my in-laws lovingly nickname me “the family planner” for all the trips and outings I plan for our family). But I sometimes get sloppy and very last-minute and unorganized about it. You’d think engineering plans so often would make me a pro at it, but it sometimes just makes me tired! This is definitely one of the areas I’m still working on, but as a VI mom, I will have plenty more opportunities for practice.
- A sense of humor: Every mom, sighted or not, needs a little laughter. But for a blind mom, it’s absolutely essential to not take ourselves too seriously and to have fun with the life we’ve chosen. My almost-8-year-old’s new favorite thing is to ask me to tell her yet another one of my embarrassing stories while she belly laughs at her entertaining mom. I find it pretty therapeutic myself. She has certain favorites that she has me repeat like folklore. Such as when the hostess at the Chinese food place near our house began steering me around the restaurant like a race car. Or when I knocked over a glass getting up to answer the door and screamed at the top of my lungs but then greeted the person at the door as if no obvious loud raucous had just taken place. Yup, my girls and I do a lot of laughing.
Yesterday morning I actually ended up getting on a conference call with “Mommies With Guides” (as part of their monthly national meetingB), and I was laughing because as 3 out of the 4 founding members introduced themselves on the call, I felt like I was getting to chat with these celebrity moms who I was in awe of when I read the magazine article. Since there were a number of moms on the call, I was at first disappointed that I didn’t get to really interact as much as I had envisioned (though they each offered to talk one-on-one with anyone who wanted to on another day). But as I listened to them encourage one particular mom who clearly needed reassurance, I was really moved by the ability of fellow moms to empower one another.
And I noticed yet another thing blind moms can develop when they put themselves out there: an additional support system. I am really excited to watch this group grow.
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