I recently had a very special friend visit for a few days,and I wanted to take her to one of my favorite places amongst rolling hills and emerald valleys…a couple of days of exploring the creativity of others, indulging in homemade chocolate and spending quality time with my girls – a girls’ weekend away, what every feminine heart needs from time to time!
When going anywhere with the girls, I’m always aware of the activities that they would most enjoy. That which would stimulate them visually, and would expose them to more literacy and get them thinking creatively. Before having kids, restful places were quiet and dreamy, but over the past 5 years, this definition has drastically changed. A restful spot is one that safely caters for my children with activities and playgrounds that allow me to lounge back and enjoy a cappuccino and have an adult conversation without having to entertain them, if only for a little while. So when we’re out and about and looking for things to do and places to see, their needs and enjoyment are fore mostly important.
Fingering through the activity brochure for our weekend away, I kept being drawn to the area on the map of a place that I had once so enjoyed visiting… a special place that displays the work of very musical artists… artists that hand craft wind chimes. I remembered so enjoying exploring their various master pieces; the chimes that sound like the bells of the various famous cathedrals with delicate notes that you almost feel more than hear. I had enjoyed my visit many years ago, and thought that it would be a wonderful place to take my friend. On consideration, a rush of guilt filled me as I realized that this would be an outing that the girls would not enjoy as they would not be able to access the sounds. This would be an experience and celebration of sound, a complete contradiction to my recent embracement of silence. This would be something that I would enjoy but would mean very little for my girls….does it make this bad? selfish? thoughtless? These questions bounced around in my mind as we meandered down the dirt road that led to this acoustic heaven.
The clutter of guilt eased in an instant as I opened my car door and experienced the whispers of the distant chimes that were being caressed by the strong breeze. We were greeted by the artists, enthusiastic to see us experience their handiwork. We told them that the girls are deaf and without hesitation, they explained that if they cupped their little hands around some of the bigger pipes, they would be able to feel the vibrations. Relieved that they would be able to have some kind of experience, we continued our auditory tour. I fell in love with a smaller chime. Its high frequency song was so pleasant to my ears and caressing to my heart. But, if I bought it, it would only be for me to enjoy, as even aided, the girls have minimal access to high frequencies, and its pipes were too thin for them to be able to appreciate any vibration. I’ve got many things of my own that are for my exclusive pleasure, whether it be perfume or luxury bath oils, they do not evoke the same feelings of guilt that considering the purchase of this chime, was creating inside of me.
I’ve tried to make our home as deaf friendly as possible with lots of visual stimulation, photography expressing sign language, and I even have a pottery ear that I’ve adorned with a floral hearing aid as a unique piece of art to express my full acceptance of my journey, as a mom of deaf kids, to my girls. We’ve made enquiries about having our gate bell wired to our lights so that the bell tone would be accompanied by a light flicker so that the girls were always aware about what was happening in the home. Other details like the shape of my dining table, have been considered to ensure that this deaf family with hearing members is well considered. Our CDs have gathered dust as we’ve grieved the loss of sound whilst appreciating the need to minimize background noise for our girls, so what was this chime experience doing to me?
I am a mother of three incredible deaf girls – that is true. Two years ago I hadn’t given deafness a second thought, today I parent a deaf family with hearing members. But that is not all I am, and it’s okay to acknowledge that. I enjoy classical music and that’s okay to admit to my newly embraced deaf world. And, hang, I’m romanced by this chime that will never ever be experience or enjoyed by any of my beautiful three…and that’s okay.
As I’m typing this, the girls are at school, and I can hear the song of my “happy” chime gently chirping away. I have a small collection of classical piano CDs that I’ve dusted off, perching next to me, for me to enjoy when the girls are out. It’s okay to feel sad that my girls won’t experience these things the same way that I might, but not for one second do I underestimate that they may just experience things differently in so many other ways to me. I’m the mom of 3 deaf daughters, I celebrate that fact, but I’m also still the same me.