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Summer 2005 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

Looking Back and Looking Forward

By Kim Cunningham (mom to Kayleigh Joiner),
Pearland, Texas

Abstract: A mother shares her fears and joys, and describes the successes related to raising her child with a visual impairment.

Keywords: parenting, transitions

Editor’s note: Kim’s posting on the Texas VI Family listserv gives inspiration to families.

I can remember 13-1/2 years ago when I was finally able to bring my little baby girl home from a 4-1/2 month stay in the NICU. She was born weighing only 1 lb. 7 oz. and left the NICU weighing 4 lb. 8 oz. My feelings were mixed with sadness and joy - joy at finally having her home and sadness in not knowing how to deal with raising a child with a vision loss. I was scared to death!

My greatest fear was that she would not know joy and she would not be able to lead a fulfilling life. I made a promise to her as a baby, that I would give her every tool she needed for success and the rest would be up to her.

Our family was joyous at every milestone; it didn’t matter that she was delayed compared to her peers. I kept a close eye on what her next developmental step was and worked to achieve those goals. Throughout elementary school she struggled with concepts. I only asked her to do her best and never concentrated on what her grades were - sometimes it was an A - sometimes an F.

As she grew I saw a very determined little girl come to life. After trying for 5 or 6 years, she taught herself how to ride a 2-wheeled bicycle. Time after time, she fought to learn everything that her peers were doing – roller-skating, ice-skating, hitting a baseball, swimming and diving, and playing tennis. Nothing came easy for her!

This year, my daughter started her first year of junior high. Something happened that amazes me still - she blossomed into a child that is full of self-confidence. One of her class assignments in the fall was to state a goal for the year. Her goal was to make straight A’s! After the first six weeks - she did it! It was her first time ever and we were elated!

As the year progressed, she continued making straight A’s. I must admit that before every report card, I tried to prepare her for possibly making some lower grades as the subjects were getting harder. But it didn’t happen. She glowed with pride in her success. Then, two weeks ago she brought home a paper stating that she was nominated by her teachers to be inducted into the National Junior Honor Society!

WOW - I cried my eyes out, all the while thanking God for blessing us with such great joy after so many years of uncertainty. I hope that this gives others the hope, when feeling hopeless, to never, never give up!

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Last Revision: September 1, 2010