Do you remember that day when you first found out your child was deaf? I still remember the look in the audiologist’s eyes, the tone of his voice, the feeling of sympathy and sadness, “It’s a severe to profound hearing loss,” he said.
The journey that followed was filled with visits to the medical professionals, early interventionists; an information overload dumped on us as parents of a deaf child. There are pressures from the audiologist to make choices for listening devices. Maybe your family has an opinion to chime in as well. Not to mention the stress of everyday life and trying to connect to a child who is different than you. It’s not hard to understand why we are overwhelmed.
In my journey I have met some mothers who have become heroes in my eyes. They have done their best to communicate with their children, make sacrifices for their child’s success and SO MUCH MORE. Although there are many more like them, I will share four stories today. Know that for each story shared here there are many more stories that go untold everyday. I know you are out there Hero Moms and I salute you!
When my sister lost her hearing at age 16, the audiologists fitted her with hearing aids and sent her back to the classroom with no further support. My quiet but determined mother always put her daughters first and was not satisfied with this arrangement, especially when she saw my sister continuing to struggle. Finally, after asking everyone she knew about education for the deaf in the area, she found a program that used ASL. She contacted the school officials and soon my sister was attending a new school across town with other students who were deaf. My willing grandma with wavy gray hair, my nervous but dedicated mother and I began taking classes at the local community college with my sister. She passed us up quickly, but I was close behind. I always look up to my mother and grandmother for attending that class with us. My Hero Mom made sure my sister had the support she needed, even though it meant opening our world up to a new world that was in many ways overwhelming to her.
This little brunette fireball is one of my Heroes. You can read her blog here. I met April after learning her daughter was the same age as mine, to the very day! We met up at a McDonald’s. While her oldest 3 children, all who have autism, played in the playground, we chatted for over an hour. It was the first time we had met in person, but we had so much in common it felt like we had always known each other. Her sixth child, the baby at the time, was her first Deaf child and April was just learning ASL. She now holds an ASL endorsement for her special Education teaching degree and is teaching at a school for the Deaf. When her second Deaf child was born, she knew what to do. Pieced together in a beautiful family, this mother has tackled every challenge and is breaking through barriers for ALL of her children, as well as for others.
I remember when I met outgoing, friendly Tricia. We attended her church on a visit to her town. Her Deaf daughter was the same age as my Deaf son. They played together. Later she would relate to me, “From that day that she met your son she has been a different child. Something clicked for her that day.” It is so important for children to meet others like them! Tricia, truly a Hero Mom, understood that.
After that meeting we kept in touch. In efforts to connect her daughter to a larger Deaf peer group, Tricia’s family moved to a different state just as we moved to the North West. As always, Tricia has been involved in the school’s parent organization and stayed active in her daughter’s education. I admire the effort by the entire family to learn and use ASL. They make sure all are included and have what they need, even when it meant moving to a different state.
Tricia has written about her family’s journey here.
I have enjoyed meeting and becoming friends with the reserved Audrey Devan. When Audrey, a member of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe with long dark hair and large dark eyes, found out her daughter was Deaf, she immediately started learning ASL and becoming active in the community where she lived. She was supportive of other families in her same situation but quickly realized there were few families of Deaf children near her. When it became clear that her daughter would not be getting the education she needed where she was, she left everything she knew behind, including a close and loving family, and moved to another state for the greater good of her daughter’s education. The road has not been easy but the rewards for her daughter have been amazing. The changes I have seen in her and her language have been so fun to watch. A Hero mom makes sacrifices for her child.
Becoming a Hero Mom
Being a mother is hard. Being a mother of someone who is different than you is harder. Making sacrifices in order to make sure your child has every chance to succeed is invaluable.
I know what you are thinking, “I don’t think I’d call myself a ‘Hero Mom’.”
I remember thinking the same thing. I’d think of moving or pursuing my own career while being a mom and I’d be filled with fear. I’d ask myself, “Am I doing enough?” “Am I being the mother my children need so that they can truly succeed?” “Are my kids in the right place?” “How do I take care of my hearing and deaf children? “How do I ensure everyone feels accepted and loved?”
Becoming a ‘Hero Mom’ doesn’t mean you don’t make mistakes. It doesn’t mean your house is spotless and your kids are perfect angels. That isn’t realistic. No one is that kind of mom.
Being a ‘Hero Mom’ means you do your best to connect to your child, to let him know you love him no matter what. It means setting up your home for a safe place for all of your children. And a real Hero Mom will teach her child that anything is possible with the right tools, determination, sacrifice and dedication.
Are you ready to become a ‘Hero Mom?’ Are you already doing many things and just need a little push and support?
I’d love to help you pinpoint your areas of concern and provide tools that will support you on your journey. There are answers, and those answers look a little different for each family. There is hope. There is light at the end of the tunnel.