Out of Love

Elizabeth and Oriana Riccobono smile big for the camera while holding their canes.

Out of Love

Out of love, my parents clothed me. Out of love, they kept me safe. Out of love, they praised me for jobs well done. Out of love, they encouraged me to achieve all of my dreams.

Also out of love, my parents scolded me. Out of love, they expected me to do my share of the chores. Out of love, they said over and over things like “Look toward people when you talk to them. Don’t poke at your eyes. Hold your head up high and stand up straight. Shake hands when you meet someone; have a firm handshake, look toward the person, and smile.” Out of love, they said things like, “No, you cannot wear your oldest blue jeans to church. No, you made a commitment, so you cannot back out on it and go somewhere else that might be more fun. Yes, you have to do your homework. No, being blind does not mean you do not have to clean your room!”

As a child, I loved my parents’ praise. I loved when they kept me safe, and I loved their encouragement. As an adult, however, I love even more the times they pushed me—the times they had high expectations for me and the countless things they taught me that make it possible now for me to be a parent of my own children.

Out of love, I try to protect my children. Out of love, I tell them when I am proud of things they do. Out of love, I enjoy giving them things they want. But also out of love, I say things like, “Austin, please comb your hair! Oriana, please use your cane. Elizabeth, please feel the Braille with your fingers; you should not read it with your eyes.” This is not always easy. Often I feel like a broken record, and I wonder if anything I say will truly sink in. But then I think of my own parents and know that I can and should be both a soft-hearted, kind mom, and a “mean” mom out of love.