I am the proud mother of two great kids. My husband and I were married for 11 years before we had our first, Louie. When we decided to become parents, we were filled with all sorts of ideas about parenting, family, and excitement about the future.
When my son Louie was five, I was suddenly faced with something completely unexpected. I learned that my adorable little boy with big brown eyes had an eye disease. I would soon learn that this disease would steal most or all of his useful vision and there is no treatment or cure.
Wow, it was a real punch in the stomach. I didn’t know where to turn or what to do. Initially the doctors didn’t offer any hope. With few options and little hope, I turned to Louie. He was still the same kid as the day prior – full of life, full of fun and fully determined to get the most out of life.
Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life – Sophocles
That works – most of the time. Louie is now 16. Together with his sister Carmella, my husband and I live a full and exciting life. Hours turn to days, days turn to months and the years fly by. Louie is a great student, a good friend and has become a leader in helping other kids overcome the challenges of blindness. I’m a proud mom, but I still have moments . . .
A couple of years ago, I noticed Louie was having a hard time finding his food on the dinner plate. My husband and I had collected this cool set of plaid dishes from the 1940’s inspired by some mugs my Grandma passed on to me. We love those dishes, but the broad brushed yellow and brown plaid seemed to be making it hard for Louie to distinguish food from design. Wham there it was again, blindness punching me in the stomach. While the solution was simple – we just jumped in the car and bought a ton of white dishes at IKEA, the realization that life is different for Louie was painful. Even now, sometimes when I’m putting those dishes in the cupboard, a tear comes to my eye as a reminder of that difference.
Louie is just finishing up his Sophomore year in High School. He has just started his own non-Profit called Louie’s Vision. His goal is to provide visually impaired kids with opportunities to expand their life experiences and empower them to reach their fullest potential. He is already more successful than I dreamed for him in those early days of parenting – regardless of his disability.
What I have learned is two-fold. First, I look to my kids for hope and inspiration in life. Second, I don’t bury those reminders of the differences Louie faces – I try to learn from the process of overcoming them. Our kids, blind or sighted, have a lot to teach us – and those experiences (expected or not) are what makes our life meaningful.