There was a period in my life where I would wake up every morning, stick a pair of contacts in my eyes, and wear those lenses till bedtime, at which point my eyes would practically be begging for mercy. But as I got older, and sleep became more of a luxury than a given, I switched over to glasses, which I find work wonders for helping me hide the black circles that seem to have taken up permanent residence under my eyes.
But after wearing the same glasses for a number of years, I decided it was time for an updated look, so I chose a pair that was a bit bolder and bigger than what I’d previously worn. When the time came to show off my new look to my husband, he had only nice things to say. My 4-year-old son, meanwhile, didn’t seem to notice, nor did my 1-year-old daughter, A. But A’s twin sister, K, had a different reaction. The minute she saw me in those new glasses, she burst into tears.
At first, I found it kind of funny. Was my daughter so unimpressed by my fashion sense that she felt the need to cry over it? But once the sobs persisted on and off for several days, I realized it was no longer a laughing matter. Rather, it was a problem.
Clearly, K was bothered by the fact that I suddenly looked different, but I couldn’t really understand why. It’s not like she wasn’t used to seeing me in glasses. Were the new frames too imposing on my somewhat narrow face? Did I suddenly appear frightening? That was a horrible thought.
I tried everything those first few days to get K to see that it was still me, Mommy, behind those thicker, darker frames. I spent hours holding her, hugging her, and singing her favorite songs, but every time she glanced at my face, she burst into tears.
Taking my glasses off only calmed her temporarily, because she kept eyeing them in my hand or on the side table, and I could almost see the wheels turning in her mind, as if to say, “But those are going to go back on, and then the scary version of Mommy will come back too.”
After a lot of coaxing, and a lot of on and off with the frames, K finally got used to my new look. But it made me realize something. As parents, we’re told that kids are resilient and wired to adapt to new situations. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes, even the smallest, simplest change can cause our children to experience a world of upheaval.
That initial day of wearing my new glasses reminded me of when I first brought my twin girls home, and K was so small and vulnerable. She was just 4 pounds when we got back from the hospital, and I remember thinking that if I hugged her too hard, I just might break her.
These days, K runs all over my house, moving furniture, and climbing on every surface she can access. Like her sister, she’s a bit of a daredevil. But beneath it all, she’s still the same tiny, defenseless little baby girl I once brought home. She still needs comfort and consistency, and I can’t always expect her, or any of my children, to just roll with it when things change out of nowhere.
Getting new glasses helped me remember that children don’t always default to resilience. They’re often frightened, and they’re often fragile. As their mother, it’s my job to help them navigate life’s deviations, no matter how seemingly minor they might be.