Those wrinkled feet. That scrunched up button nose. Those tiny little fingers. Their chest, rising and falling. Their soft little eyelids fluttering.
How many times did you just sit there, gazing lovingly at your new baby, watching them sleep, so peacefully, so innocently?
I’m sure you remember the very first moment you laid eyes on your son or daughter. That first glimpse of my precious baby girl is a moment I hope I never forget.
It’s also a moment I’ve reflected on many times. And every time, I’m overwhelmed by a feeling of gratitude.
I’m so grateful that I can SEE my daughter and watch her grow. I see her raise and furrow her eyebrows as she concentrates intently on a new toy. I see her break into a giant smile when I arrive to pick her up from daycare. I see her father reflected in every little expression she makes.
I’m also incredibly grateful that she can SEE me. Sometimes, as I’m rocking with her before bed, she just stares up at me, her beautiful blue eyes piercing my soul. She’ll cradle my cheek in her little hand, just as I’ve done to her many times.
Living in Canada, I know that I’m fortunate to have access to quality health care, and fortunate that eye care is embedded in our health care system. I know all too well that this isn’t the case for millions of people around the world.
One of the very first decisions I had to make as a new mom was whether or not to give my daughter an eye antibiotic to help prevent infection, a routine procedure done right in the hospital after a baby is born. The fact that I even had the option is incredible.
When my daughter was six months old, I excitedly took her to the eye doctor for her first eye exam, which was provided free of cost. When she got her first case of pink eye, I was able to get her a prescription right away. Both times, I felt incredibly lucky to have these services available to me and my family.
Today, my toddler’s (I still can’t believe she’s a toddler already!) favourite accessory is her sunglasses, which she calls her “eyes”. Yes, my girl, you can wear your “eyes” every time we leave the house, as you insist. I’ve been taught how important it is to protect your eyes from the sun, and we’re fortunate to live in a country where we have access to affordable sunglasses and other eyewear.
As Mother’s Day approaches and I reflect on my journey as a new mom, I can’t help but think of the mothers living halfway around the world, suffering from avoidable blindness and trying so desperately to care for their families with limited vision. Many of them don’t know that help is available, or they can’t afford treatment. Often all they need is a simple cataract surgery to restore their sight, their dignity, their hope.
I also think of the moms who are helplessly watching their children suffer from avoidable blindness, worrying what kind of future they’ll have if they can’t see to go to school and someday find employment. Many don’t know that a pair of prescription eyeglasses could transform their child’s life forever.
While it can be easy to be overcome with guilt and sadness as I think of these mothers, I find comfort in knowing this: there is a solution, and I can help.
By supporting Operation Eyesight, I can help these mothers and their children. I can help community health workers screen families for eye health problems and refer patients for care. I can help Operation Eyesight’s partner hospitals provide cataract surgeries, prescription eyeglasses and other treatment free of charge for those in need.
I might never meet the families I am helping, but I know that, as a monthly donor to Operation Eyesight, I’m transforming lives, month after month, year after year.
You can help, too.
This Mother’s Day, I invite you to make a donation in honour of your mother and mothers everywhere. You can even send your mom (or sister, or mother-in-law, or grandma or daughter) a customized eCard when you give a gift in her name.
Every mother has the right to see her child, and every child has the right to see their mother.
Thank you for your support, and Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing moms out there!