“Making it on the Playground” began as an attempt to keep my foot in the door in the field of the education of blind children, something I am passionate about. As a certified teacher of blind students, orientation and mobility specialist, and former director of education for the National Federation of the Blind, I wanted to find a way to continue my work in improving the quality of education for blind children after leaving my career to start my own family. Shortly after having my daughter, however, my focus for this site changed somewhat.
One day as a new mom, I took my daughter to a playgroup at a local park with some moms from my church. My daughter was less than a year old, but it was a great opportunity for me to get out of the house and make some “Mom” friends. As I sat there watching all the other moms monitor where their children were on the playground, tend to their needs with ease, and pack everyone back up neatly into their minivans, I felt extremely overwhelmed and thought to myself, “How am I ever going to make it on the playground?” These ladies seemed to epitomize the quintessential mom and I wanted to be like them, only I wasn’t. I was a blind mom. I couldn’t sit back and scan the playground to see where my child was, or jump into my SUV after the park, drop off overdue library books and pick up a few groceries all on the way home. To top it off, my husband is also blind, so we were going to have to overcome some hurdles. I had a lot in common with these moms, and I knew I could learn a lot from these more experienced parents, but where was I going to learn how to be a blind mom? Resources for blind parents were few and far between.
Not long after this experience, I found myself feeling a greater need to write about my experience as a blind parent. So, this site became a platform for not only sharing my professional and educational experiences, but my experiences as a blind parent, and the challenges and lessons learned along the way as we raise our family.
As I continue to develop this site, I hope that it will be a resource for anyone who deals with blindness whether personally, or professionally. . Hopefully our experience in tackling the challenges of blindness will inspire you, motivate you, or teach you something new in your own experience. . Sometimes the posts are instructional or advice driven. . Others are about funny blind moments. And some are just me sharing my feelings as I work through the hard times’ blindness can often present. In any case, I hope that those of you who drop by will find something that is useful to you as you help yourself or another in “making it on the playground.”
About the Author
My name is Mary Jo Hartle. I am a full-time stay-at-home mom to 3 children and wife to my wonderful husband. Our family resides in Maryland. Outside of caring for our growing family, I often provide contractual educational services in blindness skills, serve as an adjunct professor, at a near by university, , produce a podcast entitled: Everyday Blind Parents, and often volunteer in my church and children’s school. I grew up in Utah and have been blind since the age of twelve when I lost my vision due to an allergic reaction to a medication which resulted in a condition known as Pseudo Tumor Cerebri.
I enjoy spending time with my family, teaching my children, writing, traveling, organizing new projects, and being “anxiously engaged” in too many good causes.