For a long time Camden said "See me", and "Don't see me", when what he meant was "Look at me" and "Don't look at me". He said it mostly while learning magic tricks and playing hide and seek, and it was adorable. There are a couple of phrases he still says differently, or backwards that we don't correct because they keep him more like a child in my eyes when he is growing so fast. But this sweet boy will always be my baby.
And my baby Fiona is growing fast too. She's walking and talking and getting into everything. Which is as fun as you might think while Christmas shopping. Which brings me to my point here. My baby is beautiful. Just beautiful. And I know that I might be a little bit biased as her mom, but seriously there is no denying this cuteness. And yet.
Rarely a day goes by that someone doesn't ask me about the blinking lights on her ears. Yesterday we were waiting in a very long line at Michael's, and I had an in depth conversation about Deafness, Deaf culture, the miracle of Cochlear Implants, how well she can hear, the genetic reason that my kids are Deaf, playing sports as a Deaf child..... I think you get my point here. It's so easy for me to forget that she is wearing her processors, that people can see. I see HER. I see her getting into a giant rack of stuffed animals, pulling candy off the shelf, touching the floor (gasp), wearing her sweater my sister knitted for Camden. I see that mullet and I see that she is proud of herself for being so independent. And the people in line saw a baby with flashing lights on her head. I so wish she could just be seen the way I see her.
I know I'm not alone here. All those years of working with special kids I met at the hospital have made me look deeper than your average person. But if you have a child with a feeding tube, or leg braces, a wheelchair or walker, a helmet, or any kind of physical difference then I bet you have felt this too. You've seen your child be something else to the world around them. Something other that your perfect baby. You've seen people stare at your child for some other reason, not just because they might be dancing to no music, or screaming to be picked up.
I have become not just a mom, but an advocate for my Deaf children. I am an educator about Deafness, privilege, and rights. I hear people use words like "disability" "impaired" and "diagnosis" when they talk about my children's' gift. And "did insurance pay for that?" And I am somewhere between shouting from the rooftops about the beauty of Deaf culture and rolling my eyes and walking away from the whole naive world.
Listen. I know the lights are flashy. They serve a purpose, just like the processors themselves. Just like me. And you. And we raise the children. We raise them all, the cute ones, and the sweet ones, and the smart ones, and the ones that are in there somewhere and can't express themselves. I challenge you to look beyond the lights, and see the the light in her eyes. And I mean that for all the kids. I don't mind talking about the Deafness. And I am proud of them, and it, and the culture that I gave them. But let's look a little deeper and see what else we can find.
How do you want to be seen?
With love and frustration,