23 years ago my dream of becoming a Mom came true. Michael Joseph came into my life and my signature smile was it’s biggest and brightest. Within a few short months of having the time of my life, I heard the hardest four words of my life: Your son is blind.
It took me a while, but eventually I ditched what I thought was a death sentence and learned to live by four different words: Thy will be done.
Through faith, grit, grace, and a hell of a lot of humor, I am proudly on the sidelines cheering for all three of my children as they do life in their own unique ways, breaking through barriers, chasing their dreams, and stepping into the purposes of their lives. I am so incredibly blessed and grateful that you cheer my children and my missions on through your prayers, shares, messages, and collaborations.
Wishing my Michael Smedley a very Happy 23rd Birthday. I pray this is your biggest and brightest year yet!
And now… in no particular order, I give you 23 of the gagillion lessons I have learned in 23 years of being a Mom of blind and sighted children:
1. Get your dreams off your kids. Blindness extinguished my dreams for my kids. They have soared without the weight of my dreams on them.
2. Teach your kids to believe in themselves no matter what the world believes about them. It’s the #1 skill I have seen be the differentiator for all three of my kids.
3. We are stronger than we think we are.
4. Children are resilient. We need to step out of their way and let them uncover and practice that resilience by figuring stuff out.
5. Blind kids can play baseball with very few adaptations. My blind sons played, excelled, and won championships.
6. Blind kids can do things sighted kids can do. Sometimes they need adaptations. Sometimes not.
7. Siblings should go to each other’s activities and cheer them on as many times as they can.
8. Taking 100% responsibility for everything in your life makes life so much easier.
9. Blindness has given me a perspective I never had before and would have a very different life without.
10. My blind sons can tell in a handshake and hello if a person is trustworthy.
11. Finding the funny in life’s curve balls makes for a really fun life.
12. Special education programs in K-12 schools, when executed correctly, give special needs students a much more enriching and empowering learning experience than regular education students.
13. When accessibility is in place and tools of blindness mastered, people that are blind have a competitive edge over sighted peers/colleagues.
14. Letting go and letting our children find their way is really, really hard.
15. The early years of raising children and investing all you’ve got into them is exhausting, and so, so worth it.
16. Raising young children is exhausting. (I know I said exhausting twice. It’s because it is so dang exhausting!)
17. My sighted child has had a more diverse, empowering, enriching life than any of her friends due to experiencing her blind brothers navigating the world.
18. Sibling rivalry exists in families with children with disabilities. (Insert eye roll emoji, insert frustrated face emoji.)
19. Faith can carry you a long, long way.
20. The size of a house does not matter. Whether a child feels at home matters.
21. If you are blind and your sister is your sighted guide through an unknown or tricky space, don’t insult her – at least not until you get to where you are going.
22. Blindness is not a barrier to success; a negative view of blindness is the barrier.
23. Being a Mom is nothing like I planned or imagined… thank God.
Special Note: If you are raising blind children OR if you could use a change in perception of blindness, get my book Thriving Blind here.
Kristin Smedley is a 2019 Champion of Hope Award winner. She is a two time Best Selling author, non profit leader and TEDx speaker. She originally planned to be a third grade teacher… and then two of her three children were diagnosed as blind. Kristin now speaks around the world sharing her journey to open the world’s eyes to seeing challenges and blindness differently. Kristin founded Thriving Blind Academy to solve the unemployment and literacy crisis in the blind community. Watch her TEDx talk here and order her book here. If you are interested to have Kristin speak at your upcoming virtual, live or hybrid event email her at Kristin@ThrivingBlindAcademy.org or download her speaker kit here.