Beyond the Pretty Eggs

Happy Easter!  The spring holiday is marked with squealing children high on pastel sugar while they search for hidden eggs and the treasure it may contain.  When it gets annoying I turn off my hearing aids and bask in some peace and quiet.  What? Did I see that right, did she say hearing aids?Yes, I did.  At the tender age of 18 months old I contracted meningitis and as a result of the medication (massive antibiotics) I lost more than half of my hearing.  In order to hear what you’ve got to say I wear two hearing aids.  What does this have to do with Easter?  Everything, I tell you.  It’s the idea of transformation.  How do you transform yourself from believing you are disabled into believing that what you have is a gift?

It. Is. Not. Easy.  It is a journey that has changed me in so many ways that if you offered me life as a fully hearing person, I would hesitate;  I might even say no.

As a new Mom I am now beginning to appreciate what my parents did for me, especially my Mom.  She always told me, “It’s just like having a pair of glasses, your hearing loss is no big deal.”

I took her advice to the extreme and formed a philosophy which was to ignore that I was disabled. It seemed worse to limit myself mentally and physically because I had two little machines in my ears. I moved to Washington DC, I moved to Seattle, I went alone on a 500 mile hike in Spain. I figured that I would keep doing whatever I wanted until someone told me that I couldn’t due to my disability.  Which no one has ever done!

I was so stubborn about ignoring my “difference” that it’s led to some interesting life lessons.   For example, I moved to DC and got a job as an IT trainer. One day both the batteries in my hearing aids died while i was in the middle of leading a class.  I thought I was “good enough” to fake my way through it and rely on visual cues alone.  Nope, everyone knew something was wrong; the jig was up. What did I learn?   I had to ask for help.  I had to be honest about my situation.   I’m still learning these two lessons.  What a gift!

Growing up different was hard.  I remember being teased, bullied, and ignored.  For half my life I thought I was so different that I would never find someone to marry and that if I hid my disability people would treat me as if I was “normal.”  As an adult, I know that’s not true; but when things happen to you as a kid, the memory of it changes you intrinsically.  It takes a long time to get over certain things.

To be fair, there was a lot of doubt in my life and I was an asshole for many years.  I was angry at being different, and scared I would never get life right.  If you’ve ever seen Welcome to the Dollhouse, you’ll know that kids often do not react with empathy; it’s been my experience that they usually react with the same treatment they were given.  Over time; with amazing parents and maturity, my attitudes began to change.  Over time; I learned empathy, found real friends and spent time doing things that mattered to me.  Over time; I learned I wasn’t the only one who had a hard time growing up.  What a gift!

Most of the time I consider my hearing loss a blessing.   Like when the baby came, there were times that all she did was cry when I rocked her, I was able to turn my ears off and rock her in relative quiet.   THANK GOD!   It helped keep me calm which helped keep her calm.   Or the time I got in a fight with my Dear Husband  and didn’t want to hear his side anymore, I turned my ears off . It was SOO childish but felt SOO good.   Absolutely a gift!   The funniest compliment I ever got was, “No wonder you’re so smart, you haven’t had to hear stupid people talking your whole life.”  A very sweet gift.   

I have received important lessons of empathy, kindness to others and friendship.   For kids, it can be hard to stand up and be friends with someone who has a label of different or disabled but that is a quality to be treasured, let me tell you.  The friends I have now, I hold onto with respect and loyalty.

I hope my daughter won’t be embarassed of me because of my hearing.   It might happen.   I’m ready for it because it doesn’t matter.  If it’s not my hearing it will be something else, as any mom with teenagers can tell you.   Besides, I doubt she’ll come up with something new that I haven’t already heard.   At the end of the day, I’ll still love her and I’ll still push her to look beyond the horizon.  I hope I can use my disability to teach my daughter the qualities of respect, loyalty, empathy, and standing up for kids.  Maybe God gave me a hearing loss so I could learn through my difficulties how to be a better mom.   What a gift!

How will you handle the conversation with your kids about people’s disabilities or simply kids who are different?  If you say nothing; they form their own ideas from other kids, other parents, or the media; which is not always a good thing.  While I believe it’s good for kids to see and be exposed to different perceptions; as a parent, I believe it’s our job to help guide those fresh thoughts.  Just like the birds and the bees, every parent should talk to their kids about physical and mental differences in others.

I’m in my late thirties and still no one ever told me to stop what I was doing because of my hearing.  Is there anything in your life that is stopping you from something?   What in your life can you turn from a disability to a gift?

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24 Comments
  1. We have to convince her to come back! Annabelle misses her as much as you do I'm sure. Thank you for your kind and amazing words :).

  2. We have to convince her to come back! Annabelle misses her as much as you do I'm sure. Thank you for your kind and amazing words :).

  3. Oh mom :) Hugs and Kisses xoxo

  4. Oh mom :) Hugs and Kisses xoxo

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    I wish my mom could see this post. I am going to read this to her when she is here next.
    She always wanted to communicate to you that she respects you a lot for your attitude towards life and the way you are raising Annabelle (she tells me that MANY times).

    I feel that I become a better person every time I read your stories. Thank you so much for enriching our lives Heather.

    We love you!!
    Shipra

  6. I still love you more…. mom!!!

  7. Glad to meet you! I'm following on yours now too!

  8. Glad to meet you! I'm following on yours now too!

  9. Glad you enjoyed! I especially loved the last sentence of your comment, gave me goose bumps :)

  10. Glad you enjoyed! I especially loved the last sentence of your comment, gave me goose bumps :)

  11. Thank you for sharing this. I found you through UBP 12 and really enjoyed reading this post.

    parentingwithresearch.blogspot.com

  12. Thank you for sharing this. I found you through UBP 12 and really enjoyed reading this post.

    parentingwithresearch.blogspot.com

  13. I think that the honesty is the best way to go. Kids are so much more understanding and smart than we give them credit for sometimes.

  14. I think that the honesty is the best way to go. Kids are so much more understanding and smart than we give them credit for sometimes.

  15. Thank you my friend! You made me tear up!! You're not so bad yourself out there rescuing babies and saving dogs!

  16. Thank you my friend! You made me tear up!! You're not so bad yourself out there rescuing babies and saving dogs!

  17. I have to say reading about turning your ears off with a baby crying made me laugh, there are days I would love that haha! I have known you for SO many years and through the akwardness of highschool and must say, you are for sure a very strong woman and a great inspiration!

  18. I have to say reading about turning your ears off with a baby crying made me laugh, there are days I would love that haha! I have known you for SO many years and through the akwardness of highschool and must say, you are for sure a very strong woman and a great inspiration!

  19. Yes, thank you for sharing this. I am so glad that you look at it as a gift now. It is amazing all the little things we take for granted everyday, like the ability to hear. I have been thinking a lot about how I will broach the subject of disabilities with my children. I try to be as honest as possible, for the most part. My sister in law has type 1 diabetes and has an insulin pump. My son has asked what it is and why she has it. We explain to him exactly and he seems to really understand.

  20. Yes, thank you for sharing this. I am so glad that you look at it as a gift now. It is amazing all the little things we take for granted everyday, like the ability to hear. I have been thinking a lot about how I will broach the subject of disabilities with my children. I try to be as honest as possible, for the most part. My sister in law has type 1 diabetes and has an insulin pump. My son has asked what it is and why she has it. We explain to him exactly and he seems to really understand.

  21. Thank you! It was a hard to let it go, but you know, it felt good once it was out there! I would like to think so too :)

  22. Thank you! It was a hard to let it go, but you know, it felt good once it was out there! I would like to think so too :)

  23. Wow! I commend you for sharing your story…you are a positive role model for all of us! I'd like to think that parents teach their children to respect others, regardless of their race or disability…unfortunately this doesn't always happen!!

  24. Wow! I commend you for sharing your story…you are a positive role model for all of us! I'd like to think that parents teach their children to respect others, regardless of their race or disability…unfortunately this doesn't always happen!!

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