I was legally blind for most of my life. My vision was bad and got progressively worse as I got older. My eye doctor prescribed contacts for me at age 11. I refused to wear my glasses in public. In addition to my complete lack of self esteem at that age, they made me look like Mrs Doubtfire. (See attached photo)
But, as much as I hated my granny glasses, I hated touching my eye that much more. I refused to do it. So, once a week, I would go to Dr Roland in West Bloomfield to get the extended wear contact lenses put in. Then a week later he’d take them out and put new ones in. This went on for months. Dr Roland once went on a radio interview and when asked for his most difficult patient ever, he talked about me.
This was also around the time I got my period and refused to try tampons. Big chunky sanitary napkins were fine, thank you. Yes, even at the wave pool wearing a bikini. I wasn’t sticking anything up there. I’d rather walk around with a soggy diaper.
And then my mom gave me what I like to refer to as the “talk.” It happened driving home from Dr. Roland’s office on Northwestern Highway in Southfield. She explained to 12 year old me that the best things in life, ahem, were when things were inserted into your body. As she began with contacts and tampons and closed with sex, I decided I had to try to start trying it out, even if was all so scary and foreign to me. Also, I needed to avoid ever having that conversation with my mother again.
A few years ago I had LASIK and that solved the vision problem (although having your eyeballs frozen open in a vice was much easier to take with my new friend, mr Valium, by my side.) After I had kids, I was reminded again of my moms advice how the best things can be inserted into and removed from your body.
Running a non-profit foundation is all new to me. I feel like that kid who is afraid of hurting myself and would just rather avoid any pain. Change is scary. Opening yourself up to your community and asking for everyone for help is way scarier than putting contacts in. The fear of rejection or ridicule, or people letting you down, hurts worse than putting that first tampon in with that cardboard shell (Im an easy glide gal myself.)
And then, the other night, I sat on the couch at home frustrated by a myriad of topics related to the taking on a challenge this deep. Out of nowhere, my daughter Lauren appeared and said “Mom, I want your foundation to have my money. It’s not much, but I feel like they need it more than I do. I hope it will help.” She handed me her $5 dollar bill and I could see the pride in her eyes knowing she was doing something to help others.
My bespeckled Lauren: who is not afraid to wear her glasses in public. Lauren: who ran for school mascot knowing she was going to lose, but was completely unafraid of it. My daughter, who told me that she was proud of Obama for sticking to his guns and not giving up, and fighting so hard for something he believed in so much.
If I do nothing else right in this world, I have helped create the little girl I was to too afraid to be and hope she will continue to grow into the woman I’m still striving to become.
Trying new things is challenging. But never trying them at all is a travesty.