The True Inspiration

Emily and her family Today I was thinking again about when we learned Eddie was blind and where I turned first for inspiration. Because I didn’t know anybody who was blind I clung to books and stories about adults with visual impairments. I read every story knowing that Eddie could be just like them one day. I thought Eddie will be adventurous; he will downhill ski, he will climb mountains, and he will be highly successful and inspirational. I felt like I was reading about our own future in those amazing books.

Now, I still expect great things from Eddie, but I don’t expect him to be all the same things those men were. I suppose it is like saying because my daughters are sighted they will be exactly like Julia Roberts or Barbara Walters because they are successful women that can see, too. Really the books I read were about blind “superstars,” comparable to the rich and famous all little children aspire to be like.

The stories I read were truly amazing and filled me with hope for the future, which was exactly what a new parent of a child with a visual impairment is seeking. I wanted to be told about success stories. I wanted to know what blind people can truly do, which is pretty much anything any of us can do and then some. As time has passed, I now see that in reading those stories, the blind individual was not really what inspired me. The true inspiration was the story of their mothers.

That is what stuck over time. What stayed with me was the devotion, strength, confidence, and patience of women that raised these incredible individuals who happen to be blind. These were women that had faith in their children and often raised them alone. These were women that always said yes; yes to riding a bike, to playing a sport, and playing with the neighbors. I’m sure they were scared for their children, but they refused to let that get in the way of teaching their children to be confident and independent.

Now that I am again seeking stories (this time about autism), I am not looking for “success stories” like I once did. I do love reading about Temple Grandin and find assurance in her stories, but I am not reading her books picturing Eddie to be just like her. I realize her story is not my son’s, and that I can’t read about other people and know that will be him one day.

This time I am knowingly looking for more stories about mothers that will be my role models. Mothers that will do anything for their children, try anything, and take risks. Mothers like that can take any child, and turn that child’s life into a success story. True inspiration from mothers like that will help me push Eddie to achieve his maximum potential. Then after he does that, I can’t wait to watch him surprise me by achieving even more.