Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage.
Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.
-St. Augustine of Hippo
I heard this quote during a presentation a couple of weeks ago. I really needed it this week.
It was a week of preparation for the next round of IEP meetings for my daughter. As is the new (ab)normal at times like this, I feel overwhelmed, underprepared, and anxious about what comes next. Every time we go over a new report, we have to compare it to the old reports and I am reminded of what I didn’t know then and then I wonder how much I just don’t know now. It’s very busy in my head right now. Reading over past notes and goals I disagreed with leave me frustrated.
I feel like a clenched fist with hair.
(And, nothing else gets done. Laundry? Groceries? You mean we still have to wear clothes and eat? Haven’t you people done that enough already? There are reports to read, questions to ask, and schools to visit, dang it!)
Thankfully, it was also a week in which I was able to participate in a conversation with a group of mothers and a dynamic TVI. These ladies are determined to make 2018 the year we DO something about CVI on a grand scale here in the U.S. Listening to the passionate ideas coming from them made me smile and left me with more than a little more optimism than I had that morning.
Now, I feel like a clenched fist with hair and optimism.
This past week, while preparing for the uncertain transition facing my family, I also found myself impressed with the resolve of the CVI families’ growing efforts to raise awareness and to change the current systems of service for our children.
You could say I was living between Hope’s two beautiful daughters if you wanted to be particularly cheesy and need to find meaning in everything you read or hear. I am particularly cheesy. I do obsessively look for meaning in everything I read or hear (I wrote the St. Augustine quote on my hand so I wouldn’t forget it, for Pete’s sake. Now I’m wondering – shouldn’t it be that “Hope has two beautiful parents”? Wouldn’t that make more sense? That Hope is the result of Anger and Courage? Will I be struck by lightning for questioning a saint? Probably. I warned you it gets busy in my head. My apologies to St. Augustine.)
As the mother of child with multiple special needs and a vision processing disorder few people understand, I am familiar with anger.
The fundamentals we want for our children are that they are protected, capable, and educated to the best of their abilities. Easy enough, right? (Cue the hysterical laughter. I’ll wait while you catch your breath.)
For parents like us, this includes the extra full time job of raising awareness and educating everyone we come into contact with that – say it with me – CVI is the #1 pediatric visual impairment in First World Countries.
If you are familiar with anger as well, WELCOME. You are in good company.
Anger is an energy. (My apologies to Johnny Rotten.)
Anger is a building block for Hope.
There is plenty to be hopeful about.
Conversations are happening between families and agencies in the blindness community. These families are acting straight from the heart out of the all too common mixture of love and frustration we feel as we force the world to recognize Cortical Visual Impairment and our children.
Soon, there will be a need to ask for more families to reach out, to ask questions, to make themselves and their stories known.
This growing group of parent advocates and TVI will be asking you to join us. We will need you to reach out to agencies, legislators, and others to educate them about CVI, to let ourselves be counted, and to let them know that our children matter.
We will provide the information you need to feel well-equipped to share your stories.
I hope you will allow yourself to be included.
This is where the courage part comes in.
You may not think that you want to be someone who will stand up and be counted.
I think that you already are.
Brene Brown, the author and research professor widely known for her work studying courage, vulnerability, empathy, and shame, describes courage this way:
“Courage is a heart word.
The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart.
In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.”
“Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as ‘ordinary courage.’”
As a CVI parent, you operate from the heart every. single. day.
Every time you make the attempt to educate a doctor or a teacher about CVI, you are speaking from your heart, You are being courageous.
And, you are making it easier for the mom who will come after you.
Reading this post, researching online, following FB conversations, making D-I-Y materials to accommodate your child’s level of vision – all of these activities come straight from your heart. Through love, you perform acts of courage every day.
Join us as we speak from our hearts, taking our ‘ordinary courage‘ to a wider audience.
ACT of COURAGE/ ACTION ITEM:
Send your contact info – Name, Email Address, and State to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your information will go on a growing list of families facing the same challenges. The information will not be given to any other agencies. This is a mom fueled project. We will use the information to keep you updated on future opportunities to advocate.