Happy Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day weekend!

We chatted to three incredible Mums who’ll be celebrating (and celebrated) this Mother’s Day. Khafsa, Charmaine and Monica are at different stages of motherhood but share the experience of raising their children from a perspective that only a blind or partially sighted parent can have.

Khafsa

Mum to Zakariyah, aged 15 months

Zakariyah, a 15 month old baby with a wide smile on a toy bike.
Photo of Zakariyah taken by Khafsa

15 months in and I’m still getting to grips with this whole being a mum thing, but I’ve heard that parents are still figuring it out 25 years on, so I’m resigned to the fact that I’m always going to be figuring it out. Throw total blindness into the mix and things definitely get interesting, especially with a little boy who can never sit still. But, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

He has brought so much joy into my life and there is never a dull moment when he is on the move. For example, a few months ago, I was changing his clothes and he tried to be helpful and took his nappy off and then started running around the room, and the first thing I thought was ‘my new carpet!’ And when it is feeding time, I spend more time clearing up the food that he has thrown on the floor compared to how long it takes him to eat.

As a totally blind person, I’m always having to find ways to get around everyday tasks and being a mum is no different. He loves playing with his football, I have now got a ball with bells in so that I can play with him. So, I don’t miss out on any of the fun. I have also got the text in his baby books put into Braille, so I can read to him.

What advice do you have for other mothers?

I think the best bit of advice I got during my pregnancy was from my rehabilitation worker which was basically that there is no parenting manual, as long as your baby is well cared for and is safe, it doesn’t matter how you do things!

 

Charmaine

Mum to Alex and Sophia, aged 9 and 6

Charmaine and her two young daughters sat on a bench together.
Charmaine with her daughters, Alex and Sophia

I lost my eyesight suddenly over four years. Sighted or non-sighted, parenting has its challenges: it’s frustrating, overwhelming but always worth it. They teach us so much about being your true self, because that’s what they are all the time.

All children need to learn how to be a part of society but I feel children of visually impaired parents learn how to be kinder and more conscientious members of society because they are automatically so much more mindful of differences and capabilities. Last week I took the girls to school on the bus and they were vying for the number 1 spot of holding my hand and being my chaperone. We compromised with taking turns and each of them handled that task with love and care. They not only are mindful of me, but others, they’re aware and sensitive. I always remind my girls that no matter what, I’m their responsible adult, they are not responsible for me. I tell them almost like a mantra that they are beautiful, conscientious chaperones and that they are seeing for me.

Sophia, my youngest is on the cusp of being the age my eldest was when I lost my eyesight. She hasn’t had much experience of having a mum with eyesight. With my eldest, Alex, one of the joys I shared with her was reading, which I haven’t been able to do with my youngest. Thankfully the girls attend a wonderful school which values reading. Sophia attends additional Superstar Reading classes. She now reads to me, something I treasure, as not only is she reading but she enjoys it. A wonderful parallel to Sophia’s blossoming love for reading is that I am learning Braille. As a tactile person Sophia is fascinated by it and she even makes me Braille notes (they aren’t raised code, but the thought is there and that is lovely). I feel like we’re on a level playing field on our journey to reading independently.

What advice do you have for other mothers?

My parting words would be if you see a visually impaired parent struggling, go over to help. They’ll probably be able to give you a few tips in return about their learnings.

 

Monica

Mum to Scott, Dan and Laura

Monica with her three adult children, two tall men in their 20s and one petite woman in her 20s.
Monica with her children, Scott, Dan and Laura

My children are all grown up now. Although I proudly say I raised them to be thoughtful, practical and independent, I do still occasionally trip over shoes and coats left abandoned at the bottom of the stairs!

Bar the occasional oversight with belongings, my three were independent and perceptive long before many of their friends. If they left their lunchbox or PE kit at home, I couldn’t drive over and hand over what they left behind. There were many occasions when I felt guilty when it did happen. But with time they knew to make sure they had everything they needed for the day, with them, and with glorious hindsight this was a valuable life skill.

When my daughter was nine years old, we booked a trip to the States to visit my sister. My daughter guided me through the airport (with my instructions and I held firmly onto the passports!). From finding the check in desk to the boarding gate and retrieving suitcases at the other end; I can’t think of many nine year olds who would confidently find their way in a busy airport. And how many parents would trust their nine year old to do that?

What advice do you have for other mothers?

My advice to all parents would be to allow your children to make mistakes and allow them to take a bit of control. They may break an arm or go without lunch for the day, but you’ll be raising adventurous and sensible children who know how to get organised!