Hi, this is Kim and I want to warn you that as a parent of a child who is losing sight, this is an emotionally tough read. However, I feel it’s important for us to deeply listen to adults who are adapting to blindness. I’d like to thank Victoria for her vulnerability in sharing.
Part 3 in a special series with www.victoriaclaire-beyondvision.com
Written by: Victoria Claire
A Rejection Of Motherhood
Here is the 3rd part to the “From A Mothers Perspective” blog series. So you have had the perspective of my mum about how she felt when I was diagnosed with RP, you’ve also heard about Kim Owens feelings with her son Kai, so now I give you a completely different perspective…. from the mother that never was.
I was always one of those children that loved playing with her dolls, taking care of them and pushing them around in a toy pram, I also was always one of the children that would take care of the new young children that were starting school. I always thought I would become a mother, the maternal instinct has always been there. Like a lot of women, I thought I would be just like my mum, fall in love, get married and have a child. I even had a name should I have ever had a girl! However, the universe had a very different plan for me it would seem, once diagnosed with RP back in 1994 at the age of 19 everything changed. Not just my career path and relationships but my whole future.
As RP is a genetic disease the prospect of me passing it on to my child would be a one in four risk, there were many other deciding factors to this too, but for me the thought of being responsible for having a child with blindness when I knew that was a risk was too much for me to bear. There also were a lot of external influences with my overall decision not to have children. My first marriage was one that I knew would never result in children, it was a short-lived marriage and one that unfortunately broke down within 18 months. When I eventually found my soul mate and married in 2007 it was already very clear that neither of us wanted to have children, it has never been something that my husband has ever wanted, and for me I was still being ruled by the prospect of passing on my RP. So I made the bold decision the year we got married to have a sterilisation, this was done during an operation for endometriosis.
Recently I have felt my maternal instinct pulling at me once more, since I have opened up with my self-development I have come to realise that I rejected my maternal instinct. Back then when those permanent decisions were made I was a very different person, I felt that I had to do what other people thought was best, the fact that my husband never wanted children just sealed the deal to not have a child. However, I now understand that despite denying the deep-set want for a child I buried that feeling and kept telling myself it was for the best. This also has made me feel as if, because of my sight loss, I wouldn’t have made a very good mother.
This I have now come to realise is that I rejected motherhood because I wasn’t strong enough back then to say want I really wanted. My life is blessed with many outlets and activities that perhaps I wouldn’t have been able to do if we would have had a child. I no longer feel I want a child now, I just acknowledge that I did all those years ago.
The problem this has left me with is I can easily misplace the maternal love, by this I mean, I can over-invest in other relationships, which can then leave me very open to being hurt. For me, the best way to cope with this is to find an outlet that allows me to place that unspent love, working with people in a community really helps. I teach a creative healing class and find a sense of belonging with this, I also mentor those with sight loss and speak at sight loss conferences. My latest project will involve using my profession as a sculptor to express the maternal instinct through my work.
This is my perspective of my personal experience, I feel that everyone should have the right to explore how they feel and what they want for their lives, this should be a choice made between the two people and be free of judgment and opinion. Of course, there are many other ways to have a family these days including IVF, surrogacy and adoption. We live in a much more inclusive world where disability is far more accepted and does not need to hold back a family from thriving.
Victoria Claire is a professional artist in contemporary sculpture who is registered blind with the condition RP, she has a career that spans 25 years and has many artworks owned all over the world as well as exhibiting her work all over the UK. She also is a public speaker, Retina UK ambassador, sight loss mentor and soon to be a published writer. Her advocacy work is to empower and inspire the sight loss community and beyond.