Then you find out your child has hearing loss and you really become fair game. You are bounced from one expert to the next. Some have compassion in their eyes when they talk to you, others show no feeling at all. Some look at you and your family as unique individuals, others try to shove you all into a cookie cutter mold. But one thing rings true – everyone is telling you what you should do.
And while you thank your lucky stars that you have access to professionals and support, there are times when you feel yourself pushed and pulled in directions you don’t want to go. You know deep down there is another direction you must head towards.
There are two paths in life: should and must. We arrive at this crossroads over and over again. And every day we get to choose.
Ms. Luna’s experience is wrapped around a dream that she has about a space where she sees herself painting. Something she has become so far removed from as she moved into all the “shoulds” of adulthood. She talks about how the must of creating art was always inside her, it is just that she never really took the time to listen. She takes the big leap, quits her secure job, and heads into the unknown.
When your child is diagnosed with special need, like hearing loss, the list of shoulds becomes a mile long overnight. The whisper of must that kicks around in your head slowly becomes drowned out.
As mothers we know must.
We know when we have had enough.
When our children have had enough.
When we all need a break.
When we know that pushing our child past a certain point will be of no benefit.
Deep down we know all that, but it can be difficult, and maybe even impossible to listen, when we have a list of prescribed shoulds set out in front of us from all the people that know better.
Ms. Luna explains:
Should is how other people want us to live our lives. It’s all the expectations that others have layered upon us.
Must is when we stop conforming to other people’s ideals and start connecting to our own – and this allows us to cultivate our full potential as individuals.
The “crossroads of should and must” becomes about finding the right balance between the advice of others and that feeling you have in your gut.
I think of some of the shoulds I’ve had in my life when it comes to parenting my son with hearing loss.
- “You should relax and not worry”, says the pediatrician. “Your son is a late talker. He’s a boy. He’s a second child. There is no need to take him for a hearing test.”
- I should accept what the school has to offer and not push back when I feel services do not meet my son’s needs.
- I should enlist additional tutors and speech therapists for my son at home. The idea that more, more, more, is always better for the child.
And, here is how I turned those shoulds into musts:
- I must get my son a hearing test. I have a feeling that it is something more than simply being a late talker. (Yup, diagnosed with late onset hearing loss at age 3).
- I must speak up when I believe that my son is not getting the support he needs.
- I must let my son be a typical child. I am all for additional therapy and instruction if needed, but I know my son also needs time to run free.
As Ms. Luna concludes in her essay:
If you believe that you have something special inside of you, and you feel it’s about time you gave it a shot, honor that calling in some small way — today.
If you feel a knot in your stomach because you can see the enormous distance between your dreams and your daily reality, do one thing to tighten your grip on what you want — today.
And I think that is how your journey of raising a child with hearing loss begins. Take one small step at a time towards the dreams you have for your child. The dreams you have for yourself. That one step might not seem significant today. But, over time those steps will add up to an entire adventure.
What are some of the musts you have taken on your journey? What are some of the shoulds that are holding you back? Feel free to share them in the comments section below.
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