Saturday, September 28, 2013

Bad Mommy

My children have not seen an eye doctor in three years. I know children are supposed to see the eye doctor annually but we have not taken them in three years. When II left his job and we went back to school, we had everyone in the family's eyes checked before we lost insurance. That was actually the first eye exam I had personally had in nearly 20 years. II swore I had to have eye issues and my vision was still 20/20 so I basically told II to bite me on that one. Granted, when I hit 40, I am aware that I must start seeing an eye doctor because normal aging causes the eyes to deteriorate. When I get stressed or tired, my eyes go blurry, but they said that is a muscular issue and glasses won't help it.

Anyway, the kids all saw the eye doctor at that point. To that point, they saw the eye doctor annually. If I let myself, I feel like a horrible mother for then skipping three years. However, I think I have reached a threshold of acceptance and forgiveness for myself these days. I'm truly not that bothered that it's been three years.

Here's the thing. My kids do not have horrible eye sight. If had a child with really bad eyesight, I would never have allowed it to go three years. My oldest always had a slight nearsighted issue, but not enough to justify glasses for him. However, he did have an astigmatism that did require glasses, and we have always bought the glasses and it's been explained to this child that the glasses will help correct the astigmatism. Then, two to three weeks after the glasses show up, every.single.time., the glasses either get "lost" or they get broken. Seriously, this child is so talented at eliminating his glasses that they were once dropped right underneath the wheel of the big van and run over before anyone realized it. After years and years of buying the glasses and replacing them multiple times before giving up for another year when the eye doctor finally said forget it, they won't work if he won't wear them.

The second child has always been slightly near sighted, but again same problem with the glasses. She gets them, claims she loves them, then loses them. Just like her brother after the second or third replacement in a row, the eye doctor says forget it, her eyesight is not bad enough for this battle. I have monitored her for any odd holding habits, complaints of headaches, etc. Plus, she has seen her primary doctor and their cursory exams don't indicate a significant progression. Probably not the best parenting tactic, but honestly I figured either her eyesight would progress where she had no choice, or she would reach a place of maturity where it was no longer a battle. I have nightmares of the battles of glasses that occurred in my own childhood, and I refuse to create those nightmares with my own children. None of the children have ever had vision significantly poor, despite some strong genetic risks that they could (II, my father and my sister are naturally legally blind but all three have had corrective surgery so none actually wear glasses now).

So, as I'm correcting all of the things that fell apart as Micah died, vision exams for the kids was near the bottom of the list--quite necessary but no one was presenting with significant concerns to bump the priority. This month, we accomplished this task. Come to think of it, I don't think there is anything lower on the task except we must get J back to his Pulmonologist now that fall is here and his asthma is flaring again, but he shares a Pulmonologist with Micah and it's emotionally difficult for me to do this task. II agreed last week that he will take over this one, since he has been back to that clinic and that doctor several times and has reached a point where he can at least do what I struggle with.

The tally of eye glasses is nearly what I anticipated this year. A has an astigmatism, which he has long had. He has a tiny bit of near sightedness in one eye. If he would wear glasses for awhile, the doctors continue to assure us the astigmatism would correct and he would no longer require them. They've been telling us and A that since he was eight and he continues to refuse. We did buy him glasses yet again. He did agree if we would buy the really ridiculously expensive pair he wanted, then he would wear them for school. If he does, he might not need them at all by the end of college. However, I won't hold my breath. I think Dad got suckered into really expensive glasses that will be lost or broken before Christmas....again.

E is slightly nearsighted. She has always been this, and it has not progressed. Once again, we bought her glasses. I do have to say she showed her maturity and this time instead of gaudy, pink, and sparkly she picked a pair that actually make her look stunning, even better than she looks without glasses. So, maybe she will see them as a fashion accessory and wear them finally.

The surprise was the not-twins. C shows no signs of needing glasses per se, but it's hard to gage with his dyslexia. Ch, on the other hand, insists that everything should be two inches from his nose in order for him to read it. I truly thought Ch needed glasses, it was part of what prompted me to get the eye exams done finally. Ch has perfect vision. He appears to have a bad habit where he thinks cross-eyed is better than normal. Guess that explains why he keeps telling me he CAN read when he holds things at arms length but then immediately returns it to rest upon his nose when I stop asking. C needs glasses. His eyesight is on par with E, again not the horrible vision that runs on both sides of their family tree, but glasses just the same. He was actually quite excited to get his own pair.

R, L, and J continue to have perfect vision, as I suspected. For the first time, R did her appointment and did not cry in disappointment when she was told yet again she did not need glasses. My strange tom boy girl, she wants her outer appearance to reflect what she feels inside and she definitely feels glasses are part of what she feels inside, along with boy pants and shirts with only a touch of girly colors/flare and NO DRESSES.

The last child in the tally was S. I really had no idea what we were going to find with S. However, we have a laundry list of medical conditions we have determined are a direct result of the horrific neglect he suffered for the four years he was in the US and received worse healthcare than his ten years in Africa. So, I knew I was going to need to brace myself. S showed up with reading glasses and a healthy fear that he was to NEVER read without them, a rather odd fear for any child especially one who can apparently actual read without the glasses. He has refused to wear these glasses except on very rare occasions. We were told he had new glasses issued last spring, just before his abandonment and since there were a million other things to address with this child, I left it alone until he felt safe to address it. We talked for several weeks that if he needs glasses and if he can wear contacts, we will absolutely allow him to move to contacts. Otherwise, we will allow him to choose his own glasses and will not interfere in any way with that process for him.

We cannot determine what S requires yet. One eye is perfect vision. The other eye has an accommodation spasm. He must return in several weeks for a special eye drop to allow them to examine the eye properly without the spams interfering. Basically, when he attempts to switch from near to far and back, one eye goes into spasms instead of changing focus. What truly pisses me off is that the worthless monsters who did nothing but blame this child for all that went wrong in their house did have some idea of his vision issues. He did have glasses when he lived there. When we confronted them about the educational neglect, we were informed that S had a low IQ combined with a visual processing learning disability and that was why he never learned in their home and NOT the reality that she used the exact same first grade curriculum to "teach" him for four years. This explains why the school psychologist was not able to find ANY learning disabilities when he was formally tested. He did not have a low IQ and a visual processing disorder. He has ESL struggles and a muscular condition. They are both things that are easily address in a homeschooling situation but they are NOT an excuse for educational neglect.

So, I may be an imperfect mother. The truth is that I have reached a point that I won't swallow the pill of mother guilt of these vision issues. There have been significant issues happening in our family over the last several years, and none of the children showed signs of a major issue. Had they shown those signs, I was watching and I would have taken them in. Otherwise, we needed to take recovery one step at a time as a family. This is one of the final steps of getting back to a normal life. I'm thrilled to have finally accomplished it (but I'm now behind on well child checks due to the confusion of moving last year and must pick that up in the next two months to get everyone straightened out--long story but not terribly behind just more than a year). I have found grace and mercy for myself and my imperfections as a human. That's something I never truly thought I would find. I still stumble, but I don't automatically castigate myself for missing something, for being slow, or for just needing to work one step at a time instead of meeting all needs right away. I guess I am learning and growing afterall.

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