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Blind couple who raise two kids say society judges them

  • I lost my sight in my early twenties after contracting a virus. My husband is also blind.
  • We’re raising two kids, and we’ve devised unseen ways for their parents that work for us.
  • Parenting when you are blind is challenging, but what is even more frustrating is the judgment of others on us.

Turbulence swirls around me as I work standing at my desk. My baby’s chatter is a constant noise in the background. I focus on my task when I hear misplaced noises. It navigates through the chaos, alerting me to something. I check on the boys, and they are sure to sneak into my room to steal hidden rewards. I ask what’s up in a stern voice, then jumps up and yells “Nothing!” in need.

Parenting is tough. Parenting with special needs is no exception, and brings unique challenges.

I am blind, and I have devised a variety of ways to keep track of the boys I raise and to ensure their safety. I wasn’t always blind. In my early twenties, I developed a viral infection and pneumonia, which resulted in visual loss. I adapted and adjusted.

Blindness has its challenges. And once I became a parent, challenges flowed into this new side of my life.

We are blind parents raising 2 children

My husband is also blind, so we rely on invisible tools and methods for parents. When we decided to start a family, the fact that we were blind was not a deterrent. We were expecting a variety of challenges to present themselves. We expected some, but others came out of nowhere, to our amazement.

My fingers tap firmly on my laptop while I work. The kids wander into the playroom across from the glass wall from me at McDonald’s. I need to focus; They need an energy blast. It’s frustrating that I can’t turn my head from time to time to check them out through the window. I have to get up, go to the playroom, and check verbally and physically every 10 minutes or so.

My oldest is autistic and was nonverbal for the first three years. Before we could verbally check in with him, we used baby harnesses and bells on his ankles, we even got up on the playground equipment with him.

But we’ve never been able to sit around like other parents. Even now that they are older, I have two feline foxes – at some point they need supervision, and I can’t visually do that.

But in the end, it’s all an inconvenience, not a struggle — and certainly not a life-breaking situation. Sure, it’s a huge nuisance, but it isn’t.

Other parents pity us

Even more frustrating are the situations my husband and I have about non-visual parenting.

Like the woman across the street questioning my grandparents about our ability to raise children. She noticed I was pregnant and wondered if she should contact the authorities.

Or the runner you experienced while jogging. I stopped after a mile to sit for a few minutes, rubbing my pregnant belly. I approached and asked if someone like me should have a child.

Or a fellow mother on the playground chasing after me. When I turned to say hello, I asked if my children were safe.

These mindsets are my struggle. These mindsets are my obstacle. Dealing with these situations every day is like pushing through quicksand.

Became a father at home. It is our sanctuary where there is no outside world. I’m my mom here. And my children see me as their mothers. The blindness I suffer is not horrible or alarming; I am no different from them. They wish we had a car, sure – and so do I. But here, at home, there is no difference between me and sighted people.

My dewy dreams of parenting abroad were shattered though. No matter how I act and present, I am seen as having no agency. I am not broken. I am not half a person. I want to enter a place and be accepted as a mother, a woman, and a human being. I don’t want to always cling to my agency, forcing others to see me as a whole person.

This is the challenge of blind parenting in a world programmed with the assumption that vision is the only way to exist.

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