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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Rose Colored Glasses

(Who know that this picture would be prophetic?! Don't worry, these are MY glasses on Ellie!)

Well, Ellie’s probably won’t be rosy, but they’re bound to be cute, right?!

SIGH. Sweet Ellie needs glasses. We saw the pediatric optometrist yesterday, to voice our concerns about her vision. Some of Ellie’s difficulties are a result of her brain injury (crossing her eyes when startled, especially after hearing a loud noise, for example), but some are a result of straight bum luck. Bad genes. Blame it on your mom, Ellie!

I realize that glasses could be a fantastic thing for Ellie. She may be introduced to a brand new, colorful, properly dimensioned world! And I want that for her. I really do.

But, my mommy-heart is (once again) sad. I feel like it’s just another openly visible sign that Ellie isn’t “typical”. Another area in which she stands out from other kids her age. Another possible reason for kids to make fun of her as she grows up. As if she didn’t have enough hurdles to cross.

“I guess she’ll have a pair of cute little glasses on for her 2-year-old pictures,” Richard said last night. My response was, “She doesn’t HAVE to wear them for pictures!”

And then my heart stopped short. What am I doing? I know that Ellie is too young to understand self image, but it won’t be long until she becomes more aware of her body and outward appearance. Will she feel prettier without her glasses, because her mom has inadvertently instilled that belief in her? Why do I feel heavy-hearted about Ellie wearing glasses? Perhaps it’s MY image problems.

It’s made me think about why it’s so important for me that Ellie look as “normal” as possible. I always feel a bit of satisfaction when I can send out pictures in which Ellie looks like a “totally typical toddler”. Or if we can eat in a restaurant without anyone noticing that she’s “different”. If Ellie can come across as fabulously normal, then my goal is accomplished!

Yet, Ellie ISN’T typical. As she grows up, her physical disabilities will become more noticeable. Her cerebral palsy will not stay hidden. Deep down, I don’t want it to. I want Ellie to embrace her difference. I want her to feel good in her skin, and to like her body. A body that will force her to work harder than you or I can imagine. I can’t hold her hand along the path of self acceptance if I’m not willing to travel it with her. She will receive her cues from ME. Holy smokes, that’s a huge responsibility (for any mom, regardless of your child’s abilities).

I suppose glasses are a good starting point for me. I’ve had to wear them all my life (since I was Ellie’s age!), and I honestly can’t recall a time when they really bothered me, or left me feeling bad about myself. So, why should I think that Ellie would feel any differently? She will be SO CUTE in her little glasses! And, even if she’s still too young to understand my compliments, I will shower her with affirmation when she wears them. I will remind her how pretty she is, and how perfect her eyes are. And I will remind MYSELF of how fabulous it is to witness my daughter SEEING the world.


Peitricia Mae said...

Yup, Ellie will be crazily cute in her glasses!

But I'm with you on the worries about kids getting subtle self-image messages from me or from elsewhere. The other day E was looking in the mirror and complaining that her 5-year-old face was too big and that she wanted a thin face like me. From where on earth?!

Ellie will learn from the best, though. One of the reasons I've always admired her mother is her independent sense of self (in fact, I'm always a bit shocked when you admit to being swayed by public opinion, but in a good way, cuz then I don't feel so weak myself :). You keep being you and Ellie will get it.