By Charlotte Mellor
Becoming a parent to any child is magical in its own right. But below is a list of observations about things only a mum of a child who is visually impaired would know. Myself and a group of other super-mums have helped to create this list! How many of them resonate with you?
1. As parents, we all know the fear of keeping eyes on our children constantly to make sure they are safe. If your child has a visual impairment, the stress of completing this task increases ten fold! Oh why isn’t it humane to put a lead on a child?
2. Mess, mess and more mess! A simple meal time resembles an impromptu food fight. School jumpers only last a day!
3. How to smile sweetly at the question, ‘are they sleeping?’
4. Support from friends and family means the world for any parent, but when another mum who has a child with a visual impairment says ‘yes I get that’ it makes it all seem a whole lot better.
5. The dreaded licking and mouthing of random items and surfaces. It takes children who have a visual impairment longer to grow out of this phase. I literally got to a point where I gave up ensuring everything was sterile for my own sanity.. lick away, just lick away.
6. It is horrible to see any child get hurt. But when it is your duty to guide a child who has a visual impairment and they bump their head, it makes you feel absolutely terrible. Guilt, shame, world ending type feeling.
7. Sleep… more so lack of it! Up and down during the night well into the early years. Sleep god damn you, before you tip me over the edge!
8. When they overcome something and achieve a goal, develop a skill, master an art which would be considered more difficult due to their sight impairment. It is like winning the lottery.
9. How your child gives you an incredible strength and inner fight that you never knew existed.
10. They open up a whole new world for tantalising different senses. You begin to listen harder and touch with your eyes shut – the child’s blindness changes your vision.
11. That your baby teaches you more than you teach her.
12. That you know how to spell and say Nystagmus.
13. Accepting the trust your child has in you to guide them safely.
14. Learning to describe the world around you even when people stare.
15. Staying positive when people say how sad blindness is.
16. The joy of sharing an accessible book.
17. As a mum of visually impaired child, trust your heart and don’t be forced into decisions by people around you. You know your child better than anybody else.
18. The connection you can have with your child through sound and song.
19. Understand the total uselessness of the words “Over here and over there. ” And are repeatedly annoyed with yourself for using them. Doh!
20. Can audio describe on demand, especially to anything shown on Cbeebies.
21. Can make any children’s book a tactile extravaganza by using random material, sweet wrappers, old clothes and sandpaper.
22. Can now label all parts of the eye. Last achieved in Year 7, many many years ago.
23. Seek out toys that beep, bong, speak, sing with flashing lights knobs bells and whistles, whilst all other mums run the other way.
24. That everyone feels sorry for you, but knowing that the way society treats you and your kids is a far greater burden than not being able to see.
25. They help you to ‘see’ what really matters in the world.
Join the conversation in the VICTA Parent Network Facebook page
Read our other blogs specifically for parents in our Stories Section