I have to admit something;
In my career as a mommy, there have been moments that I am not proud of.
Like this weekend, when I told my husband that he just had to watch the baby for a few minutes. I had something important to do.
(Really, I just had to go down to the kitchen and eat cookie dough straight from the refrigerator).
Maybe not my finest moment.
Or later that evening, when we took my daughter out to dinner.
As walked up and down the sidewalk, waiting for our food to be ready, we were stopped by a couple and their young son.
“I have to ask, how do you get her to keep her glasses on?” Asked the woman, lounging in her chair.
And in the same breath, she choked, “But she’s still sooo cute.”
And, in that moment, I loathed her. Loath is too kind a word. I hated her. I didn’t hate her for the question. The question is fair enough. In fact, it is the second most popular question we get.
I hated her for the implication. For the tone.
Why shouldn’t my daughter still be cute? She is beautiful. She is perfect. The glasses are irrelevant. Are you saying they’re not?
My words were acrid in my mouth as I responded to the woman.
“She keeps them on because she can’t see very well without them.”
And then I walked away.
My blood felt hot and my stomach felt heavy.
I did not feel particularly proud of that.
But, if I’m being honest, there was another moment.
A moment that I am nearly too afraid to describe.
A moment that was so painful and confusing and embarrassing that it still makes my heart hurt.
I was taking my daughter for a walk. We strolled around a beautiful, outdoor shopping complex, and as I pushed my precious girl in her stroller, we chatted and she laughed with me. I felt so happy. I felt love.
And as we walked, I saw a pregnant woman sitting on a bench. She looked up, studied my daughter and smiled. But, for an instant, I thought I caught a glimpse of her face contorting…I thought I saw another emotion begin to creep across her features…
And that’s when it happened;
My least proud moment:
I worried that this woman, this pregnant vessel to a new life soon to be born, was looking at my daughter and hoping that her baby wouldn’t have to have glasses like mine. I thought I saw pity in her eyes.
And then, I died inside.
Not because I cared what the woman thought–
not at all–
but because I hated myself for letting my mind go to that horrible, terrible, scary place.
I felt ashamed.
I did not feel proud on that day.
So, I gave myself a time out.
I asked myself why I read sadness or fear in the mist that had gathered in the pregnant woman’s eyes.
And in my time out, I recognized that while I have totally grown to love and accept my daughters eyes,
it still hurts sometimes.
It hurt when the woman in the restaurant this weekend asked me how my daughter kept her glasses on.
And it didn’t hurt because of what she was saying and how she said it,
even though it felt that way at the time;
it hurt because of how I had to answer:
“She keeps them on because she can’t see very well without them.”
It hurts. It hurts that my daughter has eyes that don’t work perfectly. It hurts that at night, when I tuck her into bed, kiss her, and tell her how much I love her, that I have to remove her glasses from her face, stealing her sight from her as she drifts towards slumber.
It breaks my heart.
But in my time out, I realized something else; I am allowed to feel crummy. I am allowed to look into the scariest depths of my anxieties, as long as I can shake them off and go on living. Because the truth is, my daughter can see.
The truth is, she looks adorable in her little pink frames with her magnified eyes.
The truth is, the pregnant woman was probably looking at my daughter with misty eyes because she was thinking,
I can’t believe I will soon have one of those. A child with whom I can walk around and talk and laugh with on a beautiful day. How lucky I am. How lucky they are.
And so, this weekend, as we strolled up and down the sidewalk waiting for our food to arrive, I shot a smile down to the woman who had asked about my daughter’s glasses. She didn’t mean any harm, after all. And when Another young couple with a little girl stopped us to say how cute my daughter was, I felt wonderful, and the smile that spread across my face was genuine and bright. And when they complimented her on her adorable glasses and fabulous shoes, I felt happy, as I told them, “Yes, my little girl sure does know how to accessorize an outfit.”
And once again, I felt proud.
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My son has been wearing glasses since he was two. He is now nearly four. The looks and comments are not nearly as numerous now as when he was two. A very young child in glasses get a million questions and comments. Recently, someone asked me what grade he was in! Hah, hah.
He still does get a lot of attention. I try to put a positive spin on it. Maybe he will think people are staring at him because he is a genius, someone REALLY special or REALLY cute Because a lot of people say “oh, aren’t you are cute”! A few times, when someone was staring at him really hard it turned out that they, too, had a young child in glasses.
Such a wonderful perspective, Cathy, and I thank you so much!
you are such a beautiful writer! I shed a tear reading your post as I can TOTALLY relate to all those feelings and I congratulate you on being so very brave to say it out loud! Believe me, you are not alone. I have had those very same feelings from time to time. In fact, the story about the pregnant woman – that has happened to me too and I had the same feelings!! You know what you are just being a protective mother of your beautiful and perfect little girl. She is very blessed to have such a wonderful caring mother. You are right, she can see and her beautiful pink glasses just make her even more unique and gorgeous. Good on you for being able to deal with those feelings and work through them. I think I can speak for a lot of parents with little kids in glasses when I say I can totally understand where you are coming from and you should be very proud of yourself for being so candid and honest xxx Ingrid
Oh Ingrid, you are so sweet and I cannot thank you enough for your words of encouragement and love. You are all you wrote and MORE! xxx
Thank you for spreading words of love. This post touched me deeply. Thank you.
Steve, your response touched me deeply so thank YOU.
I applaud your post as I’m sure most of us with kids in glasses have the same feelings and responses. I get frustrated mainly when adults stare because I feel they should know better. I’m not sure if my daughter even notices but I surely do. And it’s not the glasses they stare at but the patches. Perhaps because she is 5 we don’t get the same responses as younger kids who wear glasses.
I do like to use it as a learning moment for my daughter, though. When she sees others who might be different in some way and stares, I remind her how she feels when people look at her that way. There’s a difference between curiosity and rudeness. I want my daughter to learn that no matter what our differences, we are all special.
I love your suggestion for a teachable moment. Thank you so much for sharing and for your kind words. In the words of Yo Gabba Gabba, All my friends are different but I love them all the same. Annnnnd scene.
You write beautifully, I shed a tear! Something in your words really touched me, people don’t realise that their careless choice of words can unearth this pandora’s box of feelings. My inner mommy bear comes out a lot with others peoples silly comments! I try to smile and continue on while I ignore that burning sensation in my heart at you speak of and the feeling of my stomach dropping. Grrrr! I am so happy I have found your site, and I am only on your first post!
Thank you So much for this incredibly thoughtful and honest reply, Louise. It means so much to me!
i totally understand your feelings..its my daughter’s birthday tomorrow..and she turns 2..and she started wearing glasses very recently and i have been so hesitant and have been trying to convnice my husband that she shouldnt wear them on her bday…and then i realized im being so selfish..as if she wont be able to see properly on ehr bday then whats the point of having her bday?…still some part of me is in denial…no one int he close family n freinds have seen her in specs yet and im afriad of all the questions im going to have to face tomorrow..lets see what happens..but at the end of the day whatever is best for my beautiful lil girl is and hsould be best for me too and not the other way around..
Thank you, Maria–I can TOTALLY relate to your feelings. But I can assure you that your daughter is even more beautiful than ever with her glasses, as she can now see the world, and all if it’s splendor, so clearly. And she can see her mama’s face, bursting with love and pride. Hang in there!
mommyever after, i have to stop reading your posts at work because they always make me cry! you have an uncanny ability to cut right to the quick of how i find myself feeling about my daughter’s vision challenges. keep up the good work and i’ll keep the tissues handy!
Ashley, that makes me feel so wonderful, THANK YOU!
I LOVE all of your posts!!! They have touched me deeply, every last one of them! I just suscribed to your mommy ever after blog. I was very entertained reading all of your posts on the main page. LOVE IT!!
Thank you SO much, Jaclyn! I am so touched! Keep reading, I hope you continue to enjoy!! xxx
Thanks for posting this. I just found out today that my daughter needs glasses and was feeling a lot of different things. Worried about what ppl will say and think. Then I thought about it and you know she has a lot of shoes for different outfits, along with a lot of jewelry and also LOVES to wear sunglasses and her first response was…”I want a pair of pink, a pair of blue, a pair of purple….” She was super excited and I know how happy she will be that she can actually focus without having to turn her head to look at something or just see the world as we see it. These feelings that creep in are so natural, but it is where we let them take us. I am so proud of my daughter is is super intelligent and if glasses is what she needs then, let’s add that to her list of accessories she already has….
I love it! My daughter has two very different pairs of glasses, and really likes choosing each morning which pair she’ll wear. (Plus having a second pair is great when one has to go in for repair). Good luck!