The little girl walking on the sidewalk ahead of us clutches her mother’s hand, but continues to turn around and curiously survey my daughter as she sweeps her white cane back and forth with each step she takes. I smile at the little girl and continue the conversation I’m having with my daughter.

It used to bother me when strangers would stare. My daughter was born with her eye condition, Aniridia (which is the absence of an iris) and is considered legally blind. She has a number of other diagnoses due to her rare disease, and we’ve been living with that knowledge since she was three days old.

When my daughter was a baby I would get so mad and hurt by the stares of strangers at the mall, at the park, or anywhere else where they would notice her unique appearance. Many would remark, “Oh, somebody is tired…”, “It must be nap time…”, “Mommy, why don’t you let her sleep?” She couldn’t open her eyes very wide, so everyone would think she was sleeping when she was actually wide awake. I had even made a rule, “Six ‘Sleepy Baby’ comments and we leave.” I remember my sister counting along with me one day at the mall. God bless her, because we hit the sixth and she was ready to go too!

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