How Does My Hearing Loss Affect my Kids?
By Denise Portis
Editor: Have you ever wondered what life is like for kids raised by parents with hearing loss? Do they feel like a parent’s hearing loss has made a big impact on their lives? Do they think that a parent’s hearing loss has made their life tougher. Here with one parent’s reflections on the topic is Denise Portis. Thanks to Denise for permission to share her thoughts with you!
Webster’s dictionary is a book I keep on my desk in my home office, simply because it is in frequent use as I have teenagers at home who argue constantly about whether or not they used a word correctly. We are big on vocabulary and take quizzes in “Reader’s Digest”, challenge each other daily, and always see what Yahoo posts for their “word for the day”.
Today as I began a new entry in my hearing loss journal, I looked up the word “perspective”. I was astonished at the number of definitions for the word, many of which I have never used. Numerous definitions had to do with how one physically views an object, and it took me awhile to find my way to the definition from which I normally use the word. “A point of view; the capacity to view things in their true relation or relative importance”.
Perspective is a funny thing. Influences that can greatly vary one’s perspective include age, gender, childhood, life’s successes and failures, faith, and personalities.
This morning I happened to get a note on my sidebar, that my daughter’s blog had been updated. Kyersten is sixteen years old, and is the oldest of two. She had updated her family’s biography page which, of course, included the four members of our family. At first glance, I was delighted to see she hadn’t included the menagerie of animals we own. I always hate to see all of our critters identified in one long, “oh my gosh they have a small zoo” list!
Under each family member’s name, Kyersten had written a very brief bio, including important things like occupation, hobbies, etc. I read what she wrote about “Mom”, and then read it again more slowly.
She never mentioned my hearing loss.
I began losing my hearing at the age of twenty-five, and was deaf by the age of thirty-seven. Kyersten has only known me as a late-deafened adult, as she was born two months before my first “good grief you really do have a hearing loss audiogram”. Even though I have a cochlear implant now, she always faces me when she speaks. She and her brother learned to do so as toddlers. Since I don’t always have my CI on, I have not tried to break them of this habit. Besides, we know so many people with hearing loss it is not a bad habit! Making eye contact and speaking clearly are good skills to have. When I don’t have my CI on, they tap me and begin signing.
As I re-read her blog update for the third time, and pushed my now COLD coffee away, I found myself having difficulty digesting the fact that her perspective of who “Mom” is does not include hearing loss.
I realized that my own perspective of who I am, very much includes the fact that I am deaf. That’s not something I struggle with, or find myself wishing were different. But I consider myself a late-deafened adult.
My first conscious thought in the morning, is the fact that everything is silent and shouldn’t be. It has taken me almost four years to re-focus, so that I am not overcome with anxious thoughts in that silence. As a matter of fact, I am comfortable enough with my deafness to not have to reach for my CI when my feet first hit the floor in the morning. I enjoy coffee, breakfast and some “alone time” for about an hour prior to opening the Dry N’ Store for my CI and HA.
Yet, when the magnet of my CI coil connects and I “hear” – my world seems to right itself. I “hear”, and my heart’s desire is to hear. Hearing with a CI does not mean I hear everything. I still have to work very hard to communicate well, and there are hearing environments that are impossible.
Although my perspective of who I am includes deafness, I would not change the fact that I am. My life’s experiences have culminated into what is “me”. We are constantly changing, and hopefully growing. I take my life’s motto very seriously, “Getting by was never our destiny. We were meant to be profoundly effective!” (Borrowed from best-selling author Beth Moore’s books). Yes, I am deaf and now have a CI. But I yearn to make a difference “in spite of”.
Kyersten gave no thought to including “deaf” as she chose words and phrases to describe her mom. Somewhere along the line, I must have done something right. That she doesn’t view me as one who is defined by a disability, must mean that somewhere – somehow – I have not let hearing loss cripple me. I am her quirky, active, mother who loves her, with some very normal AND some very strange hobbies. Now if I can just convince her not to let the world know that I am the “queen of mis-spoken idioms and colloquial expressions”!
Perspectives. As unique as individuals themselves.