A Mother’s Story, by Charlotte Benson

As Christiane and I sat doing her homework one afternoon, hopelessness mounted inside of me as her strong will, independence and defiance reduced me to complete frustration. While fully rejecting my input on a first time attempt, she proclaimed “I already know how to do this, Mom. I’m going to do it like I like to do it.” I retreated to my room in defeat and I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to cope with her strong character. Only a few days later, I found myself praising God for her strength.

That weekend, Christiane was a first grade princess presented in the Helping Hands luncheon, a fundraiser for a children’s foster home in Austin. While each girl was presented on a stage, a bio was read of questions they had answered in their own words. I watched Christiane walk to the center of the stage in her organza white dress and rhinestone tiara, and was moved to hear her answers booming across the loud speaker.

She was asked, if you could invite any famous person to your birthday party, who would it be? She answered, “Monet, the famous artist, because he had low vision too.”

When asked what made her special, she answered, “I get to learn to read Braille, and one day I’ll get to have a Seeing Eye dog.” Not have to learn Braille, but get to!

Memories flooded back to me from a short year ago when I cringed in fear at the thought of a child on the playground telling Christiane that one day she’d be blind, and all the things she wouldn’t be able to do because of it. But instead, just a year later, she, in her own words, was announcing her destiny to 1,000 people and claiming her own fate.

I flashed back to our homework experience earlier in the week, and it occurred to me that the same strong will and independence that have exasperated me so many times are also incredible gifts. I think God often uses our children to teach us something about ourselves and to complete who we are. My conventional way of instructing, organizing and fitting everything into a neat little box doesn’t work with everyone. I realized in order to relate to Christiane, I was going to have to change my approach – I am the one who has to adapt. Perhaps God uses people who challenge us the most to cultivate love and acceptance instead of control and dominance. In no way do I want to squelch her spunk and fiery little personality because her strength of character, courage and confidence are the very things that will serve her so well on the road ahead. Only God knew that when He created her and, of course, He has done it perfectly.