Legally blind mom of 5 says she's 'just like any other parent out there; I just so happen to be blind'

With Mother's Day around the corner, Jackie Anderson's Woodstock home is busy with kids, now all in their teens or twenties, dropping in to visit.

Anderson has 5 kids, two biological, 3 her brother's children she adopted after his death.

And, nothing about their family life feels out of the ordinary to Anderson.

"I am just a parent," she says.  "I'm just like any other parent out there; I just so happen to be blind."

She was born legally blind, emigrating to the US from Jamaica when she was 12.

"Before I left Jamaica, they had done a total of 16 surgeries trying to correct my vision," Anderson says.  
"So, I've never seen perfectly.  I don't know what it is to see 'normal.'"

When Anderson, then married, decided she was ready to start a family, she felt prepared for motherhood, after years of teaching elementary school.  

But parenting blind was not easy.

"There were challenges every day," she says.

She does not drive, so they had to rely on public transportation to get around in the early years.

"At home, I had to childproof everything," she remembers.

When the kids were toddlers, she relied on baby gates and bells to keep up with them.

"All of the kids had bells on their shoes, so once they moved, I knew where they were," she laughs.
"And, I'll tell you, my kids, they've had their bumps and bruises."

She once found Aunya, who was also born legally blind because of an autoimmune disorder, climbing onto the dishwasher.

Three Friday nights in a row, she says, they ended up in the emergency department with Aunya, when she was about three.

"She moved, like there was no fear in her," she says.

These days, her kids are graduating, or close to it, and moving on.

But, Anderson has not slowed down.

She works with blind and visually impaired parents, as a kind of parenting coach.

In 2019, Anderson helped get a law signed protecting blind parents in Georgia from losing custody of their children because of their visual impairments, which she says is a real concern.

"You always have that fear: if my child bumped their head, they're going to question, 'Why did that happen, why were you not supervising," she says.

Still for all its challenges, motherhood has taught Jackie Anderson a lot about herself.

"I know that, and I hold the belief wholeheartedly that, if I believe, and I have the will to do something, I can figure it out," she says.

Aunya Anderson, now 18 and wrapping up her freshman year in college, says their mom held all of them to a high standard, and she is grateful for that.

"She is tough, and the tough love is there," she says.  "But, she also has made my entire experience growing up amazing and fun, and so many things I can look back and smile and laugh upon because of her."