I’d like to introduce myself in my first blog on this site. You can read my bio to learn a bit about me, so I’ll avoid repeating much of what’s there.
In the bio, I mentioned that I am a “middle ear”. It’s a term that I invented, and I think it’s catchy. There are numerous deaf people in the world. Sadly, at least in the U.S., the numbers are increasing rapidly, especially within the past decade. Loud noise mainly from cell phone music is largely to blame. That’s a topic I’ll expand on in a future blog post.
There are also numerous C.O.D.A.’s (pronounced “co-daz”) which is an acronym for “Children Of Deaf Parents”. But, there are not as many people who are hearing themselves but have both deaf parents and one or more deaf children.
I can tell you that it has been a tremendous challenge growing up with deaf parents and currently dealing with my oldest son who has been deaf since he was about two years old. The challenges that I have dealt with as a child were extremely intense. There were a few times when I considered killing myself because I just didn’t want to deal with everything anymore.
Well, in short, for now, I’m very much alive and I have a son who is now 25, but I still have to deal with his challenges. My son was born as a preemie – about 4 months early. I am not exaggerating when I say that I held an entire new world in my hand, because when he was born, his entire body fit in the palm of my hand. Doctors warned us that one of the meds they were giving him was likely to cause deafness. In hindsight, I’m not sure if his deafness was caused by that or if it was genetic. That’s a question to which I may never get a definite answer.
We suspected that he was becoming deaf, but we only confirmed this when he was about 3 years old. I recall, shortly afterwards, my wife, trying to place a positive spin, said that perhaps God was giving us another test for us to overcome and that He knows we would succeed. I knew what she meant, and I knew that she was right. But, having dealt with deaf parents for so many years, I was really exhausted of dealing with this challenge again, and my response was, “Perhaps God could have chosen someone else to deal with this.”
Well, truth is, they say we don’t choose our parents. We do get to choose if we want to have children. But, once they’re born, we don’t choose what they are either. But, we need to view every child as a gift regardless of whatever disabilities and challenges they have. We need to raise them in the best way that we can, and, sometimes, within that process, we have to pull some extra hidden effort out of our personal bag of tricks to make our children and us better.
My son is now 25. He’s accomplished a lot. Yes, he has many challenges he still has to deal with, and we struggle to find some solutions to help him. But, I decided at this point to stop “policing” him as I had been until about a year ago.
In the Orthodox Jewish community, it has now become protocol for boys and girls who want to meet to compose a “shidduch resume”. Briefly, this resume is submitted to a “shadchan” (a Jewish “match maker”) who uses this as a profile to try to match potential couples. At one point, my wife suggested that we have a look at it to see if he is presenting himself in the best possible view. I told her that I intentionally don’t want to see it. My viewing it would cause a bias to try to present him as what we’d like him to be; not what he is. Any girl who is interested in marrying him needs to see him as he is with all his assets as well as his faults. So, if you have a great Jewish girl who wants to meet a terrific Jewish 25-year old boy, and doesn’t mind that he’s deaf … well, you can contact me. But, that’s not my main point.
I’ll close for now by saying that the purpose of my stories and my blog is to educate you on what dealing with deafness is like. It affects the entire family structure in numerous ways. Many of my stories will be poignant. I mention them not to gain sympathy, but, rather to explain that there are few challenges in life that cannot somehow be overcome in some way. I hope that, when you read some of my stories you will think about some of your own challenges and develop a similar attitude. With few exceptions, every one has his or her bag of hidden tricks reserved with extra pieces of effort to help overcome difficult challenges. You just need to know where you keep your bag.