I’m thankful I’m deaf.
I was thinking that to myself on the way home from the Midwest Center on Law and the Deaf fundraiser last night.
Now wait a minute, Karen–isn’t that a little crazy? Wouldn’t life be so much easier if you had hearing in the normal range?
Sure. Yeah. A little easier, perhaps.
But here’s the thing: I’m living an incredibly rich, full life. And that life includes people who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf blind and hearing. When I was growing up, all of my peers were people with normal hearing. I had a childhood flush with a variety of friends, but man, I had to work hard to access every conversation. So I’m thankful for learning American Sign Language when I became deaf at nineteen, because that’s the moment the world opened up for me. It didn’t seem like it at the time, because I was thinking it was a pretty crappy hand that I was dealt back then. I hated wearing the hearing aid 24/7, but the silence was more frightening to me.
That silence came in handy when kid number one, two and three arrived. They were loud. Turning off the hearing aid became a thing of bliss. And when kid number one, two and three lost their hearing, for a time, I wasn’t thankful.
But today–today, I’m thankful. I look at my three kids and can’t even imagine them as kids with normal hearing. The hearing aids they wear are as much a part of them as their eyes are brown. The biggest difference between me and my kids is that they’re growing up with a sense of pride and confidence about being deaf and hard of hearing. I was the opposite– I bluffed and hid it every chance that I could when I was growing up.
Sure, there are days when I want to toss out the IEP papers and not have to remember who’s the head of the IEP team for which child. Sue, my friend who is a mom of three kids– one deaf, one hard of hearing and one hearing, tells me how easy it is with a child who can hear. No IEP, no IEP meetings, no searching for peers who are deaf/hard of hearing, no fiddling with technology, no stomping floors to reach out. A little easier, perhaps, but that’s about it.
Last night, when the evening began to wane, I was sitting around a table watching the hands fly back and forth and thinking to myself, I’m so thankful for the path in my life that lead me to all of this.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all.