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What I Wasn't Prepared For: Insights From A Blind Mother

20 Questions - Part 1

By Sirena Carroll - The Blind Single MomPublished 5 months ago Updated 5 months ago 4 min read
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A close-up image features Sirena with her young daughter, Rose, and nine-month-old Gabriel nestled between them. Both Sirena and Rose gaze down at Gabriel, who returns their gaze with a curious upward look, his right hand nestled in his mouth. Rose is adorned with a large green bow in her hair.

The Question: What were you unprepared for as a blind parent?

Disclaimer: I've altered individual names for privacy and protection.

When she was younger, my daughter and her friends climbed onto the roof of our apartment complex on a dare.

My toddler ate a crayon. He didn't lick it. He bit off the tip, ate it, then went back for more!

There was plenty about parenting that I was unprepared for when I had Rose. In my experience, much of first-time parenting isn't what we daydream it will be. I entered into it amid a vicious custody battle, so I was already pre-stressed.

I had to learn about patience.

I had to learn to trust myself as a mother.

I had to learn how to contend with the deluge of advice offered by a world that expected me to fail.

I'm caught off guard at how much the unenlightened and sighted think we can't do. The sighted majority don't understand how competent blind parents are. Most don't contend with us daily. I've met a few people whose ignorance is born of arrogant mindsets, but such isn't the norm.

  • "How does she change his diaper?"
  • "Can she feed him?"
  • "How does she know where he is?"
  • "Does she give him a bath by herself?"

Some of the kindest people I've ever met ask questions like this. I'm surprised it still surprises me. Blindness is my life. It's all I know, so when parenting tasks arise, I find ways of tackling them.

  • I change Gabriel's diaper much as any other parent does. I rely more on my hands to ensure everything is positioned correctly.
  • I fed my infant primarily by feel, and I still feed my toddler when he lets me. He's Mister Independent now, and if he could pronounce "autonomy," he'd shriek it frequently.
  • I attach belled anklets to my little monkey to track his movements. I also employ an object locater when he tries being stealthy.
  • I do bathe Gabriel on my own. I've let others bathe him only about two percent of the time. Once more, I rely heavily on using my hands to ensure all is clean and that there are no soap mishaps involving tender eyes, etc.

Sometimes, I have help. When I don't, I power through without considering that the challenge might be beyond me. I forget that to the outside world, I'm limited, and in society's minds, limitations should result in inability.

When mine don't, they're astounded.

Another aspect of parenting that never ceases to catch me off guard is how innately accepting children are. Rose doesn't view me as her blind mom. She looks at me and sees Mommy, who happens to be blind. To Rose, my visual impairment is as unquestionable as my hair color, and her friends follow suit.

Rose's friends might have questions, but they don't stare at me and automatically think, 'She can't do that.' They think, 'How will she do that?' The difference is acute; I'm forever humbled and grateful for our children's innocence.

When a small child offers aid without judgment, it's an experience no adult can replicate. Years ago, I would take my cane and navigate the sidewalks of our apartment complex to retrieve Rose from the playground. A gaggle of children between the ages of six and ten would unfurl, banner-like, from knots of play and stream in my direction, calling out to me with clear, eager voices. The youngest would approach and offer me their elbows, selflessly performing the sighted guide task with no knowledge of the official term.

Meanwhile, the older boys would politely ask if I needed help. There was no appraisal of skill, no calculation; I was not lesser in their eyes. I was just Rose's mom. I kept ice pops in my freezer, candy in my cupboard, and snacks they knew they only had to ask for. I bought everyone pizza on special occasions. Oh, and I was blind.

There's much I find I wasn't ready for when I began my parenting journey, but little of it rested on visual impairment.

Toddlers are insane in ways I did not expect. That isn't blindness-related. That's just a new mom's trial by fire, replete with cheerios in strange places (how did they get on the ceiling fan?) and a new appreciation for why toyboxes exist.

Pre-teens are insane in ways I actually did expect. Nevertheless, my eleven-year-old still tries my patience by insisting on changing clothes three times a day, rolling her eyes loudly, and whose bedroom exists within an interdimensional pocket where clothes, stuffies, and other miscellany materialize and vanish at the space-time continuum's whim.

Few surprises involve my vision, and I'm relieved to say as much.

I wasn't prepared for how much I would adore bath time.

I didn't expect to see so much of myself in my daughter.

I was unprepared to be entirely unfazed by sick messes.

I was taken completely aback by the depth of my love for those two walking heart strands.

I was never unprepared for my parenting journey to be anything but unique.

____________________

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About the Creator

Sirena Carroll - The Blind Single Mom

Killing Misconceptions, One Story At A Time

I'm Sirena, a book-loving blind mom opening up on the unique life of single and co-parenting with a disability.

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Comments (2)

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  • L.C. Schäfer4 months ago

    There's two things I especially love about this. One: the reminder that disability is not inability. Some people still need that and it's eloquent and perfect. Two: toddlers are insane. I feel the truth of this in my bones.

  • I'm so sorry you entered parenting during a custody battle. That must have been difficult. But reading all this, wow, you are so strong! I love how Rose and Rose's friends are so loving and supportive. Never let anyone dim your light!

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