The Reality of Motherhood While Legally Blind | Mama Monday | 614 Mom

Hello! I am local Columbus mom and teacher. I have two girls; Mae-5 years old and Grace—almost 2 years old. I am like many moms around here, I love to experience Columbus with my kids, husband, and friends. However, I do experience things a bit differently than all of you. I am legally blind with 20 degrees of vision left, while most of you have 180 degrees. It sometimes called, “tunnel vision”. I am unable to see the ground as I walk, therefore I use a mobility cane (or white cane) to get around.

I have something called Retinitis Pigmentosa and it is an inherited retinal disease that will slowly steal the rest of my vision over time. The hardest part about this disease is that it does its most damage right about 30-40 years old. For me, being 33, I am in the midst of raising kids and advancing in my career as my blind spots get larger and larger.

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When I was 8 months pregnant with Grace, I had my first white cane Orientation and Mobility lesson through the Bureau of Services for the Visually Impaired. I’ll admit it, as soon as that cane when in my hand, I cried. I cried for the ‘mom image’ I had. None of my images had me pushing a stroller with a cane. None of the images had my keys being taken away and my license turned in. It was all happening so fast, at a time in my life when I was beyond busy raising kids and working and just having a life.

One of the biggest supports, besides Jesus, was the Foundation Fighting Blindness Columbus Chapter. The FFB is a national organization for research for cures and treatments for inherited retinal diseases like my Retinitis Pigmentosa, Age-Related Macular Degeneration, Stargard’s Disease, Usher Syndrome, and more. This was a place I could find local people with the same vision struggles. It has been wonderful to connect with others who have a rare disease. You can check out more at blindness.org or find us on Facebook under Foundation Fighting Blindness – Columbus Chapter.

The Columbus Chapter has 3 events each year. On August 17th we’ll have a golf outing called Swing for Sight at The Safari Golf Club. In the winter, we also do a Dining in the Dark event at Columbus restaurant and wear blindfolds while we enjoy a meal without sight. Lastly, in the spring we have a free presentation from a doctor or researcher on what cures, treatments, and preventions are in the works.

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You can have that life you dreamed of, and it’s ok if it looks different than you imagined. There is joy and peace in everything, if you look hard enough.

In the end, I noticed how much easier life became with this cane. It allowed me to walk much faster, be safe while walking, and it let me actually look around instead of focusing on the ground in front of me. While I haven’t totally mastered the stroller push with the cane, I have noticed that anytime I leave the house my 5 year-old yells, “Don’t forget your cane, mom!”  In those moments, I am glad that my girls are able to see me overcome obstacles (literally) with a smile and continue about my life.

jen walker 614 mom

I have learned so much through my journey. As my vision gets worse and worse, I am bound and determined to share with other women, moms, and humans, that YOU CAN DO IT. You can have that life you dreamed of, and it’s ok if it looks different than you imagined. There is joy and peace in everything, if you look hard enough.

Walk by faith, not by sight.   2 Corinthians 5-7