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you’re in, you’re out!

September 8, 2014

There is truly a hierarchy among minority populations. And, throwing “faith” into the mix makes it even more challenging. When we are with immigrant communities, our blindness sets us apart and makes others feel a bit more superior. When we interact with our community of blind people, our interfaith existance and intercultural marriage seems to divide us from the rest. We are too liberal for some Muslims and not liberal enough for others… the same goes with the Christian population.

I have noticed that with my other four children, they feel much more rooted in the community that they were raised in than I do. I raised my adult children in a small town homogenous community. There were — and still are perks for raising your children in such a community. And, truth be told, somedays, I desperately miss those perks. However, there are also drawbacks. One of the most prominent is the fact that it is so insular. And, many people, my family included, fall outside those guidelines of acceptance. Sometimes, somedays, some people can transcend those boundaries. But, the rules of “who” and “how long,” and “at what cost,” is left to the community. Anyway, My children still have friends from that community, even though they have moved out of its vacinity. I, However, don’t enjoy that luxury. I moved to a larger city. My decision to interfaith marry has also contributed to the schism between myself and them. It is more complicated, but most community members’ perception of me now is not one that would encourage a strong friendship. The lessons that I have learned from such an experience has taught me to be more open to people in general. Thus, I am always looking for new experiences and to meet new people.

In my effort to make more friends for both myself and Azaan, I have joined two meetup groups for parents. I am also considering attending a few different churches in the hopes of expanding my likeminded friend/community base. Of course, that is not the only, nor most prominent reason to continue to look for a church, but for the sake of this parenting blog I am only going to discuss this reason. And —– when you don’t have fellowship, you miss it.furthermore, having disabled parents and being in an interfaith family, I want my little guy to both celebrate diversity himself and find places inwhich he feels comfortable belonging. I also don’t want to project my feelings of marginalization on him.

We have been to a variety of playdates and functions that were meant to do just that. We have enjoyed them all for one reason or another. The jury is out on “what” exactly these have yielded in terms of friendships, but they certainly have broadened our prospective on learning, helped Azaan to be more social, possibly educated other parents on blindness and/or other cultures, eliminated the bordom factor, given me more confidence about going out and allowed us to have many interesting discussions at home. Now, I am conscious about overscheduling my child. And, I do feel like many of the activities that are offered out, especially for two year olds, could also be done just as effectively in the home. Thus, less money spent and less hastle. But, I also know that as blind parents, we can get so frustrated with paratransit and public transportation issues; so hastled about carseats and extra luggage with no free hands; so disoriented with loud music and wide open spaces; so alone when parents are hesitant to have a casual conversation with you and so flustered when trying to balance giving our children freedom to explore and being responsible enough to know where they are and what they are doing that many times we forego the experiences and just stay inside our little cocoon homes. I think thatI did a good job at balancing these, this summer.


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