What’s in a mother? According to Jessica James:
“It’s sleepless nights, it’s nursing scratches and scrapes, it’s being stern and protective. It’s teaching them to talk, to walk, and to eventually run….It’s teaching them that they are smart, capable, funny and giving them the security to do great things. It’s building their self-esteem, supporting their dreams and loving them unconditionally.”
Motherhood. It’s something that many women dream of experiencing. For those who are moms, it is a blessed gift. It is the most rewarding experience. And this is true of my good friend, Sarah, a mother of two very happy children.
Sarah also has Usher Syndrome. Though she is profoundly Deaf and is legally blind with good central vision, they do not render her incapable of being a great mother.
She shared with me that she has faced questions about how she manages to be a mom who is also deafblind. “How do you communicate with your kids? How do you discipline them? Does your hearing husband do all the disciplining? How do you raise them by yourself during the day? Do they know you’re deaf?” Her appropriate response is always:
“Look at my kids. Do you think they are well rounded? Do you think they’re smart? Do you think they behave well? It’s because of the way my husband AND I are raising them.”
Be careful not to have low expectations for a mother who is deafblind. Deafblindness will certainly throw extra challenges her way, but she is perfectly capable. In the following interview, Sarah reveals that typical hearing and sight are not prerequisites for being a great mother.
V: What are some challenges to motherhood you face in relation to your deafblindness?
S: When we leave the house, I ALWAYS hold my 6-year-old son’s hand everywhere we go so I don’t lose him. I go ballistic if I can’t find him even if he’s standing right next to me. I don’t like to take my kids to the park like every other mom does because I can’t always keep an eye on them and can’t hear them (Husband can take them on weekends). Our backyard is the park. I have tripped and stubbed my toes numerous times on toys. I have knocked my kids down when they got in my way and I didn’t realize it. I have to rely on people for rides to places that I can’t bike to, like doctor’s appointments, so I have to schedule around other people’s schedules.
V: What kinds of accommodations do you use or adjustments have you made as a deafblind mother?
S: I have a remblucant bike, which I love! I also have a kids’ trailer hooked up to my bike. We use this to get to and from school and other nearby places. All doors in my house must be closed, so I can keep a better eye on them due to limited vision and deafness (can’t hear them getting into things they should not be getting in!). My 6-year-old son learned how to let me know that the baby is right there or he’s right there by bracing himself with his hands or tapping on my leg, “Mom, I’m right here.” Like I stated earlier, outside of the house, I ALWAYS hold my 6-year-old son’s hand everywhere we go so I don’t lose him. A cellphone is a must for all forms of communication in case of emergency, making doctor’s appointments, checking with other people for rides, etc.
V: Do you plan to have more kids?
S: No. Absolutely not! I only have two hands to hold onto both of my kids. My bike trailer can only hold two. My eyes can only handle two.
V: What advice would you give a woman with Usher syndrome who is planning to have kids?
S: Don’t let Usher’s get in the way of motherhood. Don’t worry about what other people think. My kids know I don’t drive. They know I’m always in the passenger seat. They know I use ASL to communicate. They know if they want to go somewhere, we will get there by biking, walking, waiting for someone to come and pick us up, or waiting for daddy to be home to drive us. They never once questioned why we do things the way we do. To them, I’m not “Deaf” or “Deafblind” or “disabled”…. I’m just “Mommy” to them. Cherish that! You will always find ways to adapt your life with kids.
Sarah is a great mother. She nurses scratches and scrapes. She is stern when needed and protective. She teaches her children how to sign, walk, and run. She tells them that they are smart, capable, and funny. She loves her children unconditionally. And she is very capable.
“I can do all things through Christ who give me strength.” Philippians 4:13