This July marks two years of my journey of knowingly mothering Deaf children. I say ‘knowingly’, as all the frustration, unanswered questions and deep seated concerns associated with the many months before their identification, were all part of my journey too. I think as each year passes, I will stop and reflect; reflect on what is behind, take a few moments to be very present in the ‘now’ and muse over what this interesting path is hiding around its next corner.
What has the past allowed me to be mindful of in the ‘now’?
I am aware that the ‘little’ things are not little at all. No language, meant minimal bonding with my girls in spite of loving them beyond measure. We now are able to express our love for each other. I can remind them daily that they are precious, beautiful and loved, strong, smart and brave. Every now and then, one of them will look intensively into my eyes and tell me, “Mama, you’re precious.” My relationship with them matters, and had they been hearing, I may not have acknowledged it as a priceless treasure.
We are extraordinarily ordinary. Ironically, being comfortable with this makes us extraordinary. We live in a culture where anything less than perfect, just doesn’t cut it. We are so influenced by this, that exposing our brokenness, hurt, fears and the stuff that doesn’t work out as planned, leaves us feeling so vulnerable, that we’d rather risk normalizing the deep sense of isolation inside, than chance the sting of judgment and rejection. I’ve been broken, my everything seemed shattered, and it seemed like everyone was a spectator at my vulnerability. We now embrace that which is real, we stop and examine our feelings, and appreciate that some of the unpleasant ones are just as important as the more celebrated ones. We appreciate that people are hurting. The glossy airbrushed portrayal of ‘normal’ seems glamorous yet is intimidating. I’m so relieved that we no longer feel the need to live up to that, and in our freedom, able to engage with other people in their brokenness and pain. We are learning to keep things real, and learning that real can be quite perfect.
We are learning to listen. Here I’m referring to listening with our hearts and our eyes. One of the things that I admire most about my girls, is their ability to sense other people’s emotions and well-being. They know that I am sad before I know that I am sad. They are attentive, and their example is helping me become a more attentive parent. Attentive to their needs, fears, frustrations, joys and dreams. Attentive to what they are truly communicating to me.
We are becoming resilient. We hope, we dream we try. We try harder and never give up. We know what disappointment tastes like, and have experienced the sweetest of hope. We expect people to say that we can’t…but we continue to believe that we can. We ‘can’t hear’, ‘can’t speak’ but we CAN communicate, we can learn we can be our best, and our best will be good enough.
We are becoming good at celebrating. We celebrated keeping the hearing aids in for a whole day, then our first signs, their first day at school, or first 4 word phrase … the first easy session in the sound booth. On this journey there are endless opportunities to celebrate.
We are learning to be humble. This journey is one of trial and error. What works today, may not work next year. What works for one may not be the right fit for the other. Admitting that I don’t have all the answers, is not easy; we want to know what lies around the corner. This journey will see countless decisions, some harder than others, but my hope is in knowing that all will work together for our good. The unknown need not be scary, but rather can be exciting. Learning to say sorry to my girls has been a frequent lesson in humility. There is no two ways about it, parenting kids without language is tough, when they get language it is much easier, but still often hard. I’ve snapped and shouted and misunderstood, and have had to say sorry, many times.
We are learning to be brave. Making choices that may not be popular is not easy, setting my focus on my children and not the hundreds of other voices out there, has been uncomfortable. This has helped me make changes in other areas; address injustices and challenge the ‘norm’. In this process, I am being strengthened to be brave for others too.
There are so many facets to this journey that we are discovering; gifts so precious, lessons so valuable. This is not a reflection of what I’ve learned, but rather what I am in the midst of learning. Trials develop character and character, HOPE.
Kintsukuroi. A Japanese art form that I learned about recently. I see this as a metaphor for my journey. A journey from being broken, and having Love pick up the pieces. A journey of being confused and feeling alone, and have Hope whisper that it’s all going to be okay. A journey that we continue, one day at a time, embracing the hills and the valleys. Kintsukuroi means “to repair with gold”, and is described as, “The art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer.” The process takes time and precision. The process embraces that which is unpredictable – broken pieces are different in size and shape, you work with what you have; some vessels may have just a small chip and others may be completely shattered. This art form requires patience, and at times, may even burn fingers. The most significant aspect of all, as so simply explained, is the “understanding that the pottery piece is more beautiful and valuable for having been broken.”
https://www.google.co.za/search?q=kintsukuroi+images&biw=1011&bih=506&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0CCkQsARqFQoTCKmc8qKG8cYCFecX2wod8acFkw#imgrc=3ydz_JyoqK-Z3M%3A (this is the online reference for the photograph as used for this blog).