I learned a lot from my mom but not because of what she taught me directly. It's what I learned from being part of her world. As I have said in other posts, it never occured to me that it was hard because my mom was blind when I was growing up. It was just a way of life for me. I learned early on what I needed to do in order for her to understand what I was talking about.
As a professional, I sit back and observe my mom with my teacher eye. She put her cane on our dinner table and I told her to put it on the floor because I don't like "cane bogies" on my table (it's the exact same thing I tell my students!) It's not that I treat her like my students. It's just now as I have had time to learn, I realize what a hero my mom truly is.
My mom had limited skills and even more limited resources when I was a child and a teenager. We relied on good friends to help. We had limited financial resources. We didn't have a phone or nice furniture. And despite a long list of negatives, my mom was a mom first and a blind person second.
I always knew that even though she physically couldn't see my JROTC uniform or watch me at my softball games, she thought I was the best. Again, I am humbled, proud and amazed to see what she continually accomplished with such limited resources. I thought about this constantly as she was with me this last visit. I was proud that my sweet daughter chose to stay at home with her and play with her. I laughed with love when my mom reported that it was my daughter who got the step stool and helped cook lunch, washed the dishes and took care of things. I looked at my daughter and saw myself as a child standing next to my mom doing the exact same things.
I learned a lot that week. I learned about how visual memories fade. I was reminded again how different the world is for my students with total vision loss. But how brilliant my mom and my students are to have figured out how a visual world works. I am reminded to look at each step of a sequence in order to understand the whole concept when teaching. Sometimes I don't think I can articulate it for my education teams how to look at each and every tiny step in a concept. It just makes sense to me. My mom taught me.
My other favorite moment of my mom's visit was watching my almost-5 year old guide grandma and her little brother across the street. I told my girl to hold on to both of them as tight as she could! It has always been my hope to share with my children the love I have for my students. They come to several of my student events and play with my students. But I think this visit and this moment I'm writing about built a new bridge.
I know that it is hard for my parents at times as they learn to navigate the unique needs of their children who are blind or visually impaired. Blindness is a unique disability. It cannot be compared to Autism or cognitive impairments or deafness or anything. I'm in this field to make a difference because blindness is not about what you cannot see, it's about what you can do. There are wonderful, brilliant strategies for teaching all children with a visual impairment. It doesn't matter if it is a child that is a Braille or large print reader, deafblind , CVI or has autism spectrum disorder/visual impairment. As professionals, we are constantly learning from our students (and our families).
I hope as you follow my blog you will feel empowered. I hope we learn together. I am thankful for my students, my colleagues and most importantly, my mom. I'm proud to be her daughter.