- I lost my vision in my 20s after contracting a virus. My husband is also blind.
- We are raising two boys and have come up with non-visual ways of raising them that work for us.
- Parenting while blind is challenging, but what’s more frustrating is other people’s judgment of us.
Shock swirls around me as I stand at my desk. My two children’s chatter is a constant buzz in the background. I am concentrating on my task when I hear an out of place noise. It seeps through the chaos, alerting me to something. I check on the guys and sure enough, they are sneaking into my room to steal hidden treats. I ask what’s wrong in a stern voice, and they both jump up and yell “Nothing!” in a chorus
Parenting is challenging. Parenting a child with a disability is no exception and presents unique challenges.
I am blind and have devised a variety of ways to keep track of the two children I am raising and ensure their safety. I wasn’t always blind. In my early 20s, I became ill with a viral infection and pneumonia, which caused me to lose my vision. I adapted and adjusted.
Blindness has its challenges. And once I became a father, the challenges came to this new aspect of my life.
We are 2 blind parents raising 2 sighted children.
My husband is also blind, so we rely on non-visual tools and methods to parent. When we decided to start a family, the fact that we are blind was not an impediment. We expected a variety of challenges to present themselves; some we have anticipated, but others have come out of nowhere, stunning us.
My fingers are constantly hitting my laptop while I work. Children play in the arcade on the other side of the glass wall at McDonald’s. I need to concentrate; they need to blow through the energy. It’s frustrating not being able to turn your head from time to time to look at them through the window. I have to get up, go to the arcade and check in verbally and physically every 10 minutes or so.
The oldest is autistic and did not speak for the first three years. Before we could communicate with him verbally, we wore a child harness and bells on his ankle, and even got on the playground equipment with him.
But we have never been able to sit down like other parents. Even now that they are older, I have two cunning foxes: at some point they need supervision and I can’t do it visually.
But at the end of the day, this is all an inconvenience, not a struggle, and it’s certainly not a devastating situation. A big inconvenience, no doubt, but only that.
Other parents pity us
What is most frustrating are the attitudes my husband and I encountered about non-visual parenting.
Like the woman across the street who questioned my grandparents about our ability to be parents. She realized that she was pregnant and wondered if she should call the authorities.
Or the corridor I passed while running. I stopped after a mile to sit for a few minutes, rubbing my pregnant belly. She came over and asked if someone like me should have a baby.
Or the fellow mom on the playground lurking behind me. As I turned to greet her, she asked if my children were safe.
These mindsets are my struggle. These mentalities are my obstacle. Dealing with these attitudes every day is like walking through quicksand.
I can be a father at home. It is our refuge where the outside world does not exist. I am a mom here. And my kids see me as their mom. My blindness is not surprising or disturbing; I am no different from them. They wish we had a car, sure, so do I. But here at home there is no distinction between sighted people and me.
However, my wet dreams of being a father are shattered on the outside. Regardless of how I act and present myself, I am considered to have no agency. I am not broken. I am not half a person. I want to enter a space and be accepted as a mother, a woman and a human. I don’t want to always cling white-knuckled to my agency, forcing others to see me as a whole person.
This is the challenge of blind parenting in a world programmed to assume that seeing is the only way to exist.
Source : www.insider.com