I started this site about five years ago as a way to blog about my passion as a teacher of blind students and “keep my foot in the door” so to speak in the field of education for this population. . It initially served as a resource for parents and teachers of blind children, and had a fair running for a time. But I feel like the time has come to take things in a new direction. While I am still passionate about the education of blind children, I’ve been out of the professional field of education for some time now—by choice—to be a full-time stay-at-home mom to my children. I feel that my talents and passions now may be better served in other ways. As a busy mom of two small children, (with one on the way), I’ve also found it challenging to write consistently on topics that I’m not dealing with on a regular basis. So with that, I am combining my passion for blindness education in general with my passion for motherhood in an effort to redesign this site to serve as a place to share my experiences, tips, tricks, and strategies as I go along as a blind parent.
There are a number of great resources out there for parents and educators of blind and low vision children, but not nearly as many available for blind and low vision parents trying to “make it on the playground” out there among all the sighted parents. . So, with that, I thank those of you who have stuck with me over the years, and hope to keep your support through this transition. I also hope to serve an even broader audience with this new endeavor.
When my first child was a few months old, I started attending a play group with members of my church at a local playground. It was a great way for me to meet other moms and get out of the house with my small child. Over the next couple of weeks as I participated, I remember feeling more and more overwhelmed as my responsibilities as a mother became ever more present. I watched all these moms tending to their children and began to realize just how different my parenting techniques were going to need to be as a blind parent. Sure, I had good blindness skills training, and a pretty positive attitude about blindness, but now could I really “make it on the playground?” I believed that a blind person could be a good parent…in theory. I’d even observed a handful of other blind people who had children and seemed to be relatively successful parents, but were they just the exception? Could I really do it, especially with both my husband and I being blind? I’ll admit, the task seemed daunting and I felt a little alone in this endeavor with few resources at my disposal.
As a parent now for some time, I’ve invested a great deal of time and energy reading books, articles, and blogs on parenting and motherhood in general. I’ve listened to great podcasts, participated in mom’s groups, attended parenting workshops, observed other parents, and conversed often with friends about the joys and challenges of parenthood all in an effort to figure out how to be the best parent I can be for my children. All of these things, along with just my own experience “on the playground” thus far have taught me a great deal and I’ve gained a lot of valuable knowledge along the way. But while there is a plethora of support and resources out there for parents—whatever your style or needs—the resources on how to deal with the challenges of blindness and parenting are few and far between. Most that do exist, in my opinion, focus on things related to legal issues of blind parents retaining custody of their children. While I certainly agree that this is a very important topic and not to be ignored, I felt that information about practical day-to-day “how to’s” was somewhat lacking. I often feel like I’m kind of muddling along, or cobbling bits and pieces of information shared by other blind parents together to figure things out as I go.
I recently did a google search for “resources for blind parents” which resulted in four results—ONLY FOUR RESULTS! Do you know how many general parenting platforms are out there? How many moms’ resource sites, support groups, organizations, publications, and mommy blogs there are? HUNDREDS! There’s something for everyone no matter what your style. Of these four search results, two of them were from the same resource, the National Federation of the Blind (great resources by the way and from an organization that has been a great support to me in general). I’m sure varying the search phrase may result in a few more hits, but the point is that there are very few platforms where blind and low vision parents share knowledge—not only with ourselves, but with the sighted public. So, the more of us that join in this effort, the better.
Not too long ago, I found myself again standing on a playground and contemplating how far I’ve come as a parent. I worry less about how I’ll keep track of my children nonvisually, what others are thinking when they see me show up with my cane, and how I’ll deal with all the “how will I…” questions that are sure to present themselves in the future. My confidence as a blind parent has definitely grown. I know there are still challenges ahead, but I feel better equipped to face them. My hope with this site now is that I can help share what I learn as I go along, and learn from others along the way.
1 thought on “Changes for the Playground”
Hi Mary Jo, It’s Brenda from Winnipeg. I had not seen a post from you in ages. Thanks so much for the update and new direction. Though I am low vision and ot a parent, I was a certified child care worker at one time and I have a psychology degree. Now I’m in office administration. Still love supporting blogs and other blind r low vision organizations. We have the Vision Impaired Resource Network (VIRN) here in Winnipeg, Canada. I’m going to pass your link on to a vision impaired parent I know. Keep blogging!