I adore our sign language teacher. She has been the one consistent person in our deaf team since the very beginning. She has made me tea while I sobbed on my sofa. She has told me about her husbands heart attack. She taught me the signs for ‘sore’ and ‘careful’ when Shaun had cancer. She has seen me develop from a ball of heartache and confusion into a capable, bilingual mother of two deaf children.
She’s gentle and kind and wonderful.
And she’s deaf.
Her husband is deaf, she has two deaf daughters and she recently had her first (deaf) granddaughter.
Deaf is their world.
It struck me when the granddaughter was born. The mother was not crying. She did not look haggered. She was glowing, and beautiful. There was nothing wrong with her daughter. She was the same as her parents and the same as her grandparents.
And there lies the crux of it. It’s not because my children are deaf that I struggle so hard. It’s because I am not.
It’s a different world, the one where one cannot hear. It’s no better, or worse, than the hearing world. Smaller, maybe.
I don’t know how to raise my own children.
I’ll never understand what it’s like to be them. Much more so than a generational divide, or a cultural one. I am their mother, I’m supposed to know what’s best. But how can I? When I’ll never know how it feels to be deaf. They are growing up into a world that I know nothing about. Nothing.
I’m letting them down right from the very beginning.