Being Deaf–And Thankful

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.

CSDVRS Team at MCLD

CSDVRS Team at MCLD

Karen and Howard Rosenblum, MCLD

Karen and Howard Rosenblum, MCLD

15 thoughts on “Being Deaf–And Thankful

  1. And what a great way to put things in perspective!

    It’s all a matter of perception, isn’t it? It’s like that with everything we encounter in life. We have a choice in how we perceive things that are different about us, setting us apart from the so-called “norm.”

    In fact, there’s no such thing as “normal” anymore. Not in this country!

    Stephen Hopsons last blog post..Stephen Hopson Interview with Philip McCluskey, Loving Raw, Part II of II

  2. There’s a lesson for us here.

    Sometimes a hearing person who has never been around someone who is deaf will tend to feel sorry for that person when they meet them. They wrongly perceive the deaf person as lacking something. This is because they can’t imagine what it would be like to be deaf themselves. They can’t put themselves in someone else’s shoes. It’s so important for them to understand that just because the way someone experiences life is different from their own experience doesn’t mean that person lives any less of a full life.

    It’s through honest and open communication like this that we can all benefit, and learn, and grow.

    Thank you for your honesty, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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  3. Karen, I think I know what you mean in some respects. I am hearing, my child is hard of hearing. Through her I feel like my world has opened up a little bit more, I’ve met so many wonderful people, I have been given the gift of gaining a wider perspective. And I have this awesome child who has so many amazing attributes that I think are connected to her hearing loss. It is who she is. I am so thankful for everything she is and everything we’ve learned so far.

  4. You are awesome, Karen. There are times I am either a little sad or overwhelmed with the hearing loss and the accompanying bureaucracy of IEP meetings, doctor visits, etc. But every single second of ever single day, I revel in the fact that this amazing little boy with the blue-and-white earmolds is MINE. He has more words (when you include signs) than almost any other 15 month old in our local area. He laughs, plays, and destroys (he is a boy, after all) to our maximum delight.

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  5. Pingback: Hey! Your Life Sucks! Life Is a Gift | Meryl.net

  6. That’s so inspiring I am writing a paper on living without a sense and I herd about u so I desided to take a look and this is an amazing story not many people are as confident in themself like u ur an amazing person and raised great children

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