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I Am a Cruel Woman

At last night’s dinner party a mother was talking about her son’s inability to gauge depth. At two years old it was discovered that he had amblyopia (a condition my son has fought since 5 months of age) and the doctors recommended patching.

She couldn’t bear to hear him cry.
She didn’t want to deal with the fits.
Her toddler didn’t like the glasses.

She decided against the patching and the glasses because it was too difficult and her son would be teased.

And as she spoke I slowly nodded my head and said, “I understand, it’s difficult.” And I let her ramble on as she detailed the story of her son’s blindness.

I didn’t tell her about the moment where I shook and vomited as I handed my infant son to the surgeon
Or how I passed out when they gave him back and he was crying blood.
I never told her how I learned to leave a gap for the tears when I’d put the patch on my boy.
Or how I’d hold his hands by his side, restraining him each and every day.
I didn’t disclose the tips and tricks to patch removal, so you don’t tear away the precious baby skin.

I didn’t tell her that all these years later my son sees out of two eyes, can hit a baseball and will likely outgrow his glasses. I didn’t tell her that time heals many wounds but may only amplify our failures.

I never stood straight up at the table and said, “Asshole, you did this to him.”

11 thoughts on “I Am a Cruel Woman”

  1. This is nowhere near as intense, but Friday my son had ear surgery. They put in tubes and removed a little bit of his ear so that he won’t get infections. It was horrible. And now I have to wrestle him to the ground 3 times a day to put in ear drops that he hates.

    And he is mad at me. But if we didn’t do this, he might have hearing loss.

    It sucks to be the mom sometimes.

  2. I don’t have children. Yet, I understand why you would deal with today’s pain to prevent tomorrow’s catastrophe. The bigger picture is so much more important than the little pain today. I congratulate you on your courage which has saved your own child. And I wish some people could be forced to take parenting classes.

  3. You are not a cruel woman, you sat and listened to this person with compassion, I think that is what she wanted. No matter what you said about your experience, she is feeling her experience is far worse.

    You did the right thing by just listening and offering your condolences – woman to woman.

  4. I’m a little taken aback at how much this story bothers me. I know we were lucky with Zoe – she only fought the glasses for 2 weeks, we only had to patch for 6 weeks, and the surgery was rough, but thanks to you, I was prepared for the bloody tears. I know that other parents have had a much more difficult time with strabismus / amblyopia, but *come on*! This is your child’s vision we’re talking about, and patches and glasses aren’t that bad, and do you think your child won’t be teased for a lazy eye?

    I would have had that same thought that you did (the asshole one) and I would have been biting my tongue the whole time to keep from accidentally saying it out loud.

  5. Found you by Binary Blonde (your comment was hilarious, by the way) and this post nearly brought tears to my eyes.

    I don’t get why people are so afraid of an ugly disease, that they would let it run rampant rather than discipline their child so they won’t go blind.

  6. Incredible story. . .all the more so because my best friends in highschool had amblyopia (or at least, that’s the way it was diagnosed) and even hearing the name takes me back. She wore thick glasses in highschool but could definitely see.

    I don’t think you needed to say anything–that mother knows the outcome of what she did. Tragic, really.

  7. My daughter has amblyopia and we are patching. But the judgement that I get from other people and the stares when they see her wearing the patch makes me want to SMACK PEOPLE! If one more person goes up to her and asks her “how did you hurt your eye” I WILL smack someone.

    Wearing the patch isn’t real fun but its better than losing vision!

  8. I know that silent disbelief that can’t be voiced. My three have had various minor medical things/delays and whatnot and I’ve gotten to be the cruel one for years on end. Man this post gets to me for many reasons you’ll never know because I still haven’t found the words. Well said.

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