Out walking today I saw something today that both really moved me and made me think.
I had munchkin in the baby bjorn carrier and was walking down our busy high street. Coming towards me was a girl of about my age (note I am still convinced I am a girl at 33) also with her baby in a bjorn. Normally mummy strangers nod and smile when we see similar mums but this girl didn’t. That’s when I noticed two differences.
First, her baby was wearing glasses and second, she was tapping the pavement with a white cane.
To my surprise I realised this girl was completely blind and the thought of it hit me with such force I stopped in my tracks. To be completely honest I watched her for a bit to see if I could give her a hand crossing the street but also just to see how she managed. The high street is super busy with rushing people on foot, other buggies, fast cars. She crossed at two places and almost seemed to have to guess if cars were coming at one point.
It made me think about so many things. How does she feel about the safety of her baby? How on earth does she manage all the day-to-day tasks like feeding and changing nappies? I thought of all the times I have looked in on munchkin to check he is ok.
On a whole different level I can’t imagine what it must be like to not see your baby’s face when he is born, his first smile, his sense of wonder at the world.
I don’t feel sorry for this girl though and I am 100% sure she wouldn’t want me to be either. I volunteer for a blind charity so I have a very little bit of experience of trying to understand what life is like without sight.
I had the priviledge of going around an exhibit called Dialogue in the Dark in hamburg a few years back where you walk round various scenarios including a shop, cross a street, order a drink in the bar, all completely in the dark. There is not even a sense of shadows or shapes. You have a cane and a blind guide and it lasts about an hour. It was one of the most terrifying, disorienting and enlightening experiences of my life.
You can not underestimate how much you rely on sight as a key sense. If you ever have the opportunity of going round an exhibit like that I’d really recommend you do it. It will open your mind.
Seeing this girl and her baby today made me feel that motherhood is a gift for everyone and we are all lucky to experience it in our own unique way.