The comments made by parents on the post, "Never Under-Estimate the Power of a Mom" deserve their own separate post. The purpose of the post was to help new mothers realize that there will come a time when they will regain control over their future despite the fact that they don't immediately have control over their child's hearing loss. I hope that parents will continue sharing their experiences to help the next parents view their new situation with different eyes.
Paula blogged:Recently, Jodi asked the group to tell her what we did before we became parents and what we currently do as we raise our kids. It’s a great exercise, because as any parent of a child with hearing loss can tell you, we often lose our identities and become consumed with researching hearing loss, education laws, cochlear implants, assistive technology, you name it. All this while we raise our children, build our marriages, run our households and try to lead relatively sane lives.
Here’s what I told her:
As for what I did prior to staying home and raising my kids…
I went to law school, married after my second year, then started a software development business with hubby rather than pursue the public interest law career I had planned. He wrote the software and I became a self-taught marketer and public relations maven. I loved it and was very proud when I was able to get our tiny company into big player media like The New York Times and PC Magazine, this after we spent thousands of wasted dollars on a “real” tech specific PR agency.
Then I had the first two of my three children and decided to stay at home. Ever restless, I started an online business, TaylorRose, which was one of the earliest online children’s boutiques. I didn’t realize it then, but I was truly at the forefront of Internet shops as Saks and Neimans weren’t even selling online yet! I loved it and was really getting the business rolling when Julie was diagnosed with her hearing loss.
When she turned 3 I made a sudden decision to relocate to St. Louis without my hubby (somebody had to work!) so that she could attend the Moog Center for Deaf Education there. Leaving two young toddlers with a sitter in St. Louis while I jetted to Chicago to buy for my online shop was too much for this guilt-ridden Jewish mother. I closed up shop and sat around for about a day. With the kids in bed by 7:30 and hubby in New York, I quit tv cold turkey and started writing instead. Truth be told, the women who run Moog were incredibly inspiring and I aspired to become more like them. They were making such a tremendous difference in the lives of children with hearing loss every day and I wanted to too. I really felt my own experiences growing up hearing impaired could help other people.
I started HearingExchange, wrote my first original article, 5 Things to Teach Your Deaf or Hard of Hearing Child, which is still my most widely requested reprint and it all snowballed from there. I’ve been writing and researching and re-vamping HearingExchange since 2000 and truly feel I have found my calling in life! It has brought about so many opportunities for me and for Julie. I feel so blessed! And there you have it, in a nutshell! LOL
I forgot to mention what some of those opportunities were:
Meeting and speaking to groups all around the country
Being in a video on cochlear implants distributed worldwide and playing at EPCOT
Being awarded an Oticon Focus on People Award for Advocacy
Meeting Heather Whitestone twice and having Julie interview her for a school project
Being widely published and linked throughout the Internet
Receiving emails and referrals from all over the world soliciting advice on hearing loss and parenting issues
These 16 years have been a journey of self-discovery. I truly feel that I have “found” myself and am doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. Reflecting back on all that I’ve done has given me a renewed sense of accomplishment and a huge boost to my ego.(thanks, Paula)
Hetha said... Wow, what an inspirational post! I agree, moms are changing the world, plain and simple.
I'm glad you write about things that are posted on the circle, I'm a member but I don't read everything since I've wound up on so many groups. But I do subscribe to this blog with my reader, so if I miss important posts on the circle I can catch them here from you!
I am inspired by Rachel Coleman and have many times thought about going back to school (when life allows) to become a teacher of the deaf. I used to be a full time middle school teacher (language arts and computer science) before Ethan was born. He has so many needs though (beyond having implants and apraxia) that I don't know when I'll be able to go back to school/work.
Keep up the great blogging Jodi!December 13, 2007 10:34 AM
December 13, 2007 12:15 PM
I was planning on staying home before Nolan's loss was discovered, but when he was diagnosed it cemented my decision! I used to work for a small in-vitro diagnostics firm (biotech), first in product development and then specializing in failure investigations. I've never had a job as worthwhile as working with my kids, though! I'm off to go play some patty-cake with Nolan before Matthew wakes up!December 13, 2007 2:17 PM
I not only gave up my job but completely changed careers. My bachelor’s and master’s degrees are in applied math, and I spent my first 8 years post grad school working as a systems analyst, returning part time after Rachel was born until she was 4. I took what was supposed to be a year off when Adam was born because that was also my husband’s last year of surgical training, and we moved to Atlanta supposedly just for a year of his fellowship. I saw during that year what a difference my being home made for Rachel's language. Plus, we had an incredible AV therapist here, and so we ended up staying in Atlanta, and I opted to be a stay-at-home mom for awhile. I volunteered as a board member, writer and editor at both the Auditory-Verbal Center in Atlanta and for Cochlear Implant Association, Inc., for many years. When Jessica was in kindergarten, and I was ready to return to work part-time, I decided that I didn’t want the math anymore. I wanted to do something that I felt was more valuable. So, for the past 5 years I’ve worked for Nonprofit Leadership doing fundraising and development for nonprofits – less money than applied math but definitely more rewarding in other ways. As a bunch of cicircle mothers said a couple of months ago, having a deaf child changes your life, but in some ways it’s for the better. Think of the people it’s brought into our lives.
December 13, 2007 3:03 PM
I quit my job the day my son's hearing loss was confirmed with his ABR. In addition to being a mom, I needed to become a hearing loss expert as well. I'm happy to say that a year later we were able to put him in a mainstream preschool. I'm continuing to be a full-time mommy while I make sure both of my kids are getting all the support they need to thrive.
December 13, 2007 6:29 PM
Denice from CA said...
Way cool post...too true, for sure...raising a special needs child changes your life forever...for us, adopting special needs kiddos...I see it as my personal evolution too. Several years ago we adopted Rachel...I felt so isolated, I would drive for hours to connect with other folks...just to get sign language instruction was huge...now fast forward 10+ years, times certainly have changed. The adoption folks still call us, but we say no...unless it is " a deaf little girl just for the weekend!" Lol...
It is amazing to me how my daughters have evolved to become caretakers each in their own style ... but with a competence that clearly sets them apart from their peers...this is a magical era we are living in...we, ladies...and gents too...are a part of history in the making...folks connecting and empowering each other across the world...doesn't get much better than this!
Long live the internet!
Denice from CADecember 14, 2007 11:10 AM
Drew's Mom ha detto...
Great post! I had no idea that so many Mom's like me have had ideas to make complete career changes - and have done it!
I would love to stay home with Drew, but that is not practicle (we are in need of health insurance, go figure!).
I have thought about becoming a cochlear implant mapping audi. Maybe that will happen some day...
December 14, 2007 3:23 PM
Karen said... I quit my job when my oldest was four months old. I went back to work full time for two months and realized I just didn't want to miss any more of his life. He was diagnosed two years later with a profound loss. Then I had two more hh kids. I worked part time as a sign instructor and various other jobs but it's been worth it.December 14, 2007 4:52 PM
December 14, 2007 5:13 PM
It was so hard for me to go back to work after finding out about Brendan's hearing loss. Maternity leave seems so short and there was (and still is) so much for us to learn about hearing loss, therapy, etc.. What if he didn't do well and I hadn't tried everything. Luckily, I have an amazingly dedicated husband and family. Even more luckily, when I was just about to give up after 6 months back at work, another woman asked me if I would be interested in a job share (splitting a full time position in half). I know it's not an option for most people, but working 2 1/2 days a week has saved me. I'm able to spend time with Brendan and not give up all those years of training. Hopefully, with more women (and men) needing flexible options, job shares will become more common.
December 15, 2007 8:46 PM