Living Paintings

“Motherhood is a bigger challenge for me” a mum’s story

21st January 2021

Alba with her son, facing the camera and smiling, with a book on their lap.

Motherhood is a bigger challenge for me

I am Alba, I am 32 and I was born totally blind. Three years ago I had my first child, my gorgeous Eliot, and two years later our Amy was born. Both my kids and my husband are fully sighted. Motherhood is a challenge for everyone, I would say it is the biggest challenge any woman can face! And, although I always try to prove myself equal to others, I do believe it is an even bigger challenge for me.

When Eliot was born I was absolutely fine feeding, changing nappies, and taking him for walks. Even when he started crawling and walking things were easy, as I just had to put some bells on his socks to know where he was. But as he was growing older, and showing an eagerness to know everything around him, I found myself more and more limited.

Alba reading to her son, sitting on her lap and lookign at a picture of an orange dragon.

I started noticing that Eliot would always want daddy to read instead of me

Before I knew of Living Paintings I used to braille all of Eliot’s books because I didn’t want to be less fun or interesting than my husband was for Eliot. As soon as someone gave us a book, it went in a cupboard and it wouldn’t leave that cupboard until it was brailled. It took ages to braille a book, not only because I had to type the text on see-through sticky paper and then cut it to shape and stick it in the book, but also because I wrote a description of the pictures in the book so that I could describe them and talk about them with Eliot. I always had to wait until my husband was free and we would sit and adapt each book. A short book for toddlers would take us an hour to do. And, as many will know, time is not something parents have to spare.

At the beginning I brailled every book shortly after getting it, but then Amy was born, I had even less time and the cupboard of un-brailled books was getting fuller. My husband started reading them to Eliot, who was tired of my repeats, and I started noticing that Eliot would always want daddy to read instead of me, daddy had the fun new books.

Living Paintings had everything, all those books other mums talked about

Then I remembered someone had once mentioned Living Paintings to me and I gave it a Google. Why wouldn’t I have done it sooner!

I signed up, which was really easy, and I couldn’t believe it when I searched through the catalogue. They had everything, all those books other mums talked about but were too long for me to Braille! I ordered a couple of them, expecting to receive an e-mail saying they didn’t have them, but the books arrived a few days later. It was so exciting to open the cardboard boxes, it felt like Christmas. And then the pictures, all embossed and really easy to understand, so easy to feel and so realistic! I also loved how all books were the same size as the originals, and how Eliot could see the original pictures while I read the Braille.

I have video-called my mum in Spain to show her the books, and she has been really impressed. I have shown them to my mum-in-law, she learned Braille so she could Braille me some books too, but she is so happy now she can be relieved of that duty!

fingers touching a tactile image of Zog the orange dragon

I now read to Eliot every evening, he sits on my lap and listens

Now we order books constantly from Living Paintings, we get three or four at a time, we read them and re-read them, we return them and order new ones. It feels like going to a physical library, something I had always felt very jealous of because other mums could do it with their kids.

I now read to Eliot every evening, he sits on my lap and listens, and then he takes my hand and shows me the pictures and we talk about them together. He is particularly fond of Julia Donaldson’s books, but anything with planes or dinosaurs are always a thrill!

Our little Amy has started to take an interest in books too, and she loves to play with the embossed pictures. Sometimes she sits and listens to me read too. So I think we will be using Living Paintings for many years to come and I am really thankful that they exist.

Alba’s top 3 picture books to share at story time

A mobile phone sitting on a wooden table top and wrapped in earphones displays the Living Paintings website.

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