Something wasn’t right with Lizzy’s eyes.
My almost year-and-a-half-old daughter would sit at the dinner table and look at the food on her plate, and her left eye would slowly drift inward and stay there while the other eye moved about normally.
The first time, I thought it was a weird kid thing, like baby acne and cradle cap. But then it kept happening. However, I was the only one who saw it (Dan might have seen it once or twice, but he wasn’t sure). Maybe I was spending too much time with her. Maybe all that alone time with a pre-toddler wasn’t doing well for my mental status.
But I got worried and took her to an eye doctor near me.
He took a couple minutes, shined a light in her eyes, and said it was phony lazy eye, pseudo strabismus. He handed me a brochure that informed me I was seeing things, but the delusion was common. Who knew they had pamphlets for parents who are hallucinating their children’s medical problems?
But it kept happening. And Dan started seeing it.
And others started seeing it.
So I took her to a specialist yesterday. She shined lights in Lizzy’s eyes and moved glass lenses around in front of them.
And she told me that Lizzy can’t see very well. That she’ll need thick glasses, probably for her entire life.
I wasn’t ready for that.
I’d entertained the idea that she’d need a goofy pirate patch for a while, prepared myself for the annoyance of taping it to her head after each bath. Wash it after spaghetti dinners. I’d seen kids with patches and pitied the parents for having to keep them on a squirmy toddler’s head. I wasn’t thrilled about the prospect, but at least I was prepared for it.
The doctor told me that Lizzy’s vision problems were causing her to prefer the stronger eye, her right one, and the left one was just shutting down. Her brain was beginning to ignore its signals.
Often, glasses correct the issue. Kids’ eyes start working again and stop drifting around on their own.
But sometimes kids need surgery in addition to the glasses. But we’ll know better in six weeks if that’s required.
I was shocked into stunned silence for the rest of the appointment. I asked a few pathetic questions and was thankful to have a doctor at home to explain all these unfamiliar terms to me.
Clutching Lizzy’s eyeglasses prescription, I walked into the eyeglasses store where the doctor sent me, one specializing in baby glasses. Overwhelmed by all the little pairs of glasses, I stood staring at the display case for a while, while a very helpful and knowledgeable saleswoman took me aside and spent over an hour talking me through what Lizzy needed.
Lizzy howled as we tried to fit glasses on her head. I had visions of struggling to get her to wear hers when they come in next week.
Back in the car, I lost it. Life was unfair. I’d already been through enough with Lizzy’s health.
But the peace that passes understanding came over me. I prayed for help, and I got it. Jesus held me and let me know that he was with me in this. He has big plans for Lizzy, and this is part of them.
I had visions of my little girl, strengthened by adversity. It’ll be hard to explain to other kids why she has thick glasses, to endure the teasing that little kids dish out to those who are different. She’ll become a stronger woman for it.
Jesus is calling her to an amazing life. He’s choosing to refine her from this very early age, as he’s already done with her other medical issues. All the pain she’s endured with her reflux and breathing problems are part of the same plan.
It’s agony seeing my child pruned, honed, disciplined, trained, and shaped, all before she’s walking.
But I believe that God is in control. He has a bigger plan in all of this. And I’m glad he’s in charge of her life, and I’m not (I’m just here following orders).
But in the moment, when the scares and shocks come my way, I can’t say I’m always thinking that way. So I’m thankful that he speaks wisdom to me and guides me when I need it. And boy, do I need it.
Parenting is tough. Thankfully, we don’t have to do it alone.