"Honey, don't worry," I said to my husband as I kissed him good-bye. "Got lots of things planned for the kids today."
But it wouldn't be okay. While he was at work, I was alone with my three little boys. My insecurities blasted me like the cold drafts in St. Louis winters. And those silent shortcomings added to the unexpected and painful interruptions in my day.
I stood at the kitchen sink. "I'm okay, honey," I said to my seven-year-old son, Jason, as I pressed a piece of ice to my forehead.
"Are you crying?" he asked.
I brushed a tear off my cheek and nodded as my heart ached. How could I tell my three little boys that their mommy's vision was diminishing? They would never understand about incurable retinal disease or the fact that I inherited it from their grandfather.
For the moment, the tiny field of vision I still had ushered me from task to task as their mommy.
Pressing ice to my forehead to dull the pain, I sat on the couch in our family room. And while they all romped in the backyard, I made the decision. My limited eyesight wouldn't interfere in my role as their mom. On the contrary, I'd use each episode to teach them about life.
"You have a bump on your forehead," Jason said when he came inside. I had removed the ice and the spot still throbbed.
"I do," I said matter-of-factly. "There's a lump, but I didn't fall down. I'm really okay. In life we all have bumps in the road. We'll run into things we never expected to be there. I run into things because I can't see too well." I pulled him closer. "As you grow up, you'll probably have obstacles too. And when you do, guess what? God is already watching over you. Sometimes he allows a bump, but if you trust in him, he'll never let you fall."
Each time I faced a challenge, I found lessons for each of them. My three-year-old brought a book for me to read to him—at least attempt to read with my limited vision. I sat him on my lap and opened it to the first page.
"Mommy it's upside down," he said as he turned the book in my hands.
"That was the wrong way, wasn't it?" I turned his chubby cheek toward me. "Can you tell me other things that you know are wrong?"
"When I hit Jeff?" he asked.
Months swept by, and the dreaded day came. I woke up and tried to fix my eyes on an object, but I saw nothing. I turned to the right, to the left; I squinted but saw no shadows, colors, or shapes. I was totally blind.
Weeks of adjustments, tears, anguish, and reassigning tasks to my husband marked the entrance into my new world of darkness.
But then another day came, a glorious day. I woke up and heard their giggles, their voices, and their silly antics that opened the eyes of my heart. They reminded me I still could hear, walk, love, and I still had the passion to care for them. I had so much, and what I lacked could be compensated by other senses.
Trusting in my senses of feeling and taste, I learned to cook, clean, do laundry, and even play with my boys.
One night, as I walked into my four-year-old's room, I made my way to the bed, and with my fingertips, I felt for the pillow. As I always did, I bent over to give him a kiss. But this time I didn't feel his soft cheek. When I investigated with my hands, I discovered he had gone in headfirst under the covers and I had kissed his wiggly feet. I laughed. Then, slipping out from under the covers, he gave a mischievous giggle. That sense of humor and positive outlook took us through tough episodes and adjustments.
God gave our family a way to face my blindness. He gave my sons a new view of life and he gave me a unique opportunity to learn a new side of motherhood—that a mom's weaknesses, physical or emotional, can be the very strength to teach them crucial lessons, such as the value of perseverance, the importance of courage, and the need for increased faith.
Now grown and with their own lives, they display compassion, maturity, and a bright outlook on life.
Although without eyesight, God graced me with insight to teach my sons that, through Jesus, the weaknesses that make us doubt will be the strengths that make us soar.
How about you? Maybe blindness isn't your obstacle, but rather, life's struggles blind you from seeing God's power at work in you. And if you're going to bed resting your head on the pillow of guilt—didn't do enough for my kids, did too much, did it wrong—sweet sleep will come when you recognize God's way to bring success as a mom is when …
- our passion isn't to be perfect, but to have perfect trust in God.
- our shortcomings aren't failures, but they're the platform to show our kids how to overcome.
- our tough moments aren't flaws, but opportunities to teach our kids to pray.
At the end of the day, a sweet song of confidence will play in our hearts: "So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Janet Perez Eckles is an international speaker, personal success coach, radio host, and author of the Amazon #1 best-selling book Simply Salsa: Dancing Without Fear at God's Fiesta (Judson Press). You can find out more about Janet at JanetPerezEckles.com.