My Acceptance Speech for Mother of the Year

I want to thank you so much for this award.  It comes at a perfect time – mere days after my seven-year-old told me she really wanted to call me a bitch.  And when she was punished for that, she insisted it was unfair because she hadn't called me a bitch at all.  She merely said that she WANTED to.  Why was I so mean?!  That was a particularly low point last week but this beautiful award more than makes up for it.

I’m pretty sure that what cinched up the award for me was when Pip took my glasses off my face the other night, put them on, and exclaimed “Ohhhhhhh….everything is clear!  Ohhhhhhhhhhh!”  as he looked around incredulously at the mural on the YMCA wall and the pool where his sister was swimming.

I should go back to the beginning.  Last spring we were informed that Pip had failed his eye exam at school.  I contacted his pediatrician and asked if we absolutely had to deal with this now or could we just wait until his mandatory eye exam for kindergarten.  I promise it wasn’t laziness…exactly…it’s just, you know, we spend an awful lot of time getting Pip examined for things.  Also, laziness.   She sent us to a pediatric ophthalmologist   Turns out Pip has a pretty substantial astigmatism.  He got that from me…I got it from my dad…you’re welcome, Pip.  Genetics is a bitch (and so am I – ask Bunny.)

I went to the place where our eye insurance would “cover” the glasses and, because I know my son, because even fathers of boys stand on the playground and marvel at his daredevil activities, I chose glasses made from surgical grade plastic – bendable, no metal screws or hinges – virtually indestructible.  (cough, cough, bullshit, cough)  Because Pip was reluctant to wear glasses and because he is very sensitive to bright sunlight, I got transition lenses.  Cause glasses that magically change to sunglasses are cool as hell.  They were nice glasses.  They cost $560.  Our insurance covered half.

Pip had a difficult time with the glasses.  He was not yet 4 years old and was not at all interested in having something stuck on his face that wasn’t part of the meal he’d eaten earlier in the day.  I would find them in toy boxes and under sofa cushions on a regular basis.  I would put them back on his face and ask him to please be sure to wear them.  But I couldn't bring myself to come down hard on him.  Many of my dealings with Pip in the 4 and a half years he’s been alive have been life and death.  I threaten him about taking the meds that keep him from rejecting his liver and I hold him down while people poke needles into him and I just couldn't bring myself to make him (or me) miserable over a pair of glasses.  Honestly, I just couldn't get all worked up about them.  No one ever died from an astigmatism.

Right?  I didn't actually look that up but I think that’s right.

A month after he began sorta wearing his glasses occasionally when I remembered or bothered to remind him, I took my kids in the bike trailer to a field near our home to watch the fireworks that Northwestern University would be setting off that evening.  We had a wonderful time out there in the dark.  Such an exciting adventure.  As I was buckling them back into the bike trailer I noticed he wasn't wearing his glasses.  Sigh….  I could write an entire post about the search for those glasses – me and Bunny on our hands and knees in a pitch black field trying to find them by feel.  My dismantling of the bike trailer.  The following morning’s outing back to the field where the children ate donuts and chased each other as I carefully walked the length of the grass, turned and moved over 12 inches, and walked back the other way…until the intramural softball league showed up.  And then the guy on the riding lawn mower.  Ridiculous.  They were gone.

The replacement glasses were half-covered by insurance again.  Pip broke the arm off within weeks.  They couldn't be repaired.  They had to be sent back to the factory and replaced.  That took 6 weeks.  When we got them back, the nose piece kept falling off.  Not even Pip’s fault this time – it just fell off at the slightest provocation.  I’d throw them on top of the microwave and let them taunt me with their presence there for a week or two before taking them back to be repaired.  They’d break again in a matter of days.  I got to the point where I could no longer bring myself to go back to the eyeglass shop.  I super glued them.  They broke again and I super glued them again.  Then Pip, in a fit of anger, twisted them until the nose piece ripped in half.

I threw them on a shelf and forgot about them.  I was done.  And then we started getting reports that Pip was not able to keep up in school.   There is concern he won’t be ready for kindergarten.  What in the world could that be all about, I wondered.  I know he’s smart.  He’s one of the youngest in his class and he lacks focus for sure, but still…

Then, Thursday night at the YMCA, things started making some sense.  I began to grasp the painfully obvious truth.  Pip can’t see.  There may be other issues.  He’s certainly had his share of challenges.  But Pip was finally able to express for the first time ever that he doesn't see well.

We immediately replaced the glasses with a cheaper pair (we've burned through the insurance) and got a second pair to keep at school from Walmart.  We picked them up on Friday.  Pip was excited to get them.  As we walked back to our car, he said “Ohhhhhhh!  Things aren't blurry anymore.”

I’m so proud.  Really.  Thank you so much for this honor.  I want to acknowledge my illustrious fellow nominees like “Mother who left her kids in the car while she gambled in a casino” and “Mother who left her kid at the hardware store to teach him a lesson” and “Tiger Mom.”   Thank you, also, for the decoupaged ‘Mother of the Year’ plaque/ashtray and the lifetime supply of ear plugs and booze.  Have no doubt they’ll be put to good use as I ignore other significant motherly duties and further delay my children’s important educational milestones.
(Now, imagine me squinting with that bizarre Jodi Foster intensity from the Golden Globes) I’m not going anywhere.  Those kids still have all their limbs.  No one is experiencing night terrors.  My work here is far from done.

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  • My eight year old daughter was having trouble in school and off to the eye doctor we went. Sure enough, she has her father's vision (he got glasses when he was eight.) She was sick when the glasses were ready so I picked them up and brought them home. As she put them on and looked out the window she exclaimed with awe, "You can see all the limbs on the tree." Guilt, guilt, immediate guilt. How long had she been quasi blind? How long had I been blind to the quasi? I still feel a pang, thirty years later, but I know in my soul, Pip's Mama, you just can't get to these things until you get to them.

  • In reply to MAMil:

    I remember that moment from when I was in 4th grade and got my glasses and noticed leaves on the trees for the first time. But I don't think my mom had any way of knowing I had bad vision because I didn't know until I could actually see.
    Maya Angelou says "When you know better, you do better." I try to ignore the fact that I actually knew almost a year ago that Pip had vision trouble and pretend I was just given new information and now I will do better. It's flawed logic but it helps me sleep at night.

  • In reply to B and P’s Mama:

    Sweet dreams, Dearie. You earn them every day... And your writing! So good, so good.

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    Sometimes you just get tired of constant "you should do this and that" with kids. I feel a lot of pressure to see a specialist for everything. More tutoring, weekend camps, etc. I often wonder "can this wait?" or really? By today's standards, my patents boardered on abusive! Glad you found that place where it made a difference to you and your child!

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    I think I was disqualified the time I was called to pick up my sick child. "He says his ear hurts. We tried to look inside to see if it was red, but his ear was so dirty we couldn't see anything." Proud if I could clear the way for someone like you to win this prestigious recognition.

  • Ahahahahahahahahahaha! That is so AWESOME!
    Now please excuse me while I go look in Pip's ears for possibly the first time.

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