The day my son Michael was diagnosed as severely deaf was the day I discovered the true meaning of motherhood. I don't think anything (and believe me I've had my ups and downs) has EVER been as painful to me. This was more than 14 years ago on a Wednesday. The previous Monday, the company I worked for had announced my promotion, but I can only remember how I felt the night I knew my son could not hear. I prayed to God that he would take away my house, my new title at work, and all of the material things that I had earned thanks to my rising career. I was overwhelmed by guilt, feeling that I had focused too much on work and not enough on the things that really matter in life.
From that moment on, and for a whole year, I could not even play any kind of music and kept myself from anything that brought happiness to me. I would cry myself to sleep every night thinking about the silence and darkness in which my son might be living in.
I had never met a deaf child, nor had a child with special needs in our family. "If he can't communicate, how is he going to go to school? He'll never be able to earn a degree, speak Spanish, nor enjoy the sound of music," I thought.
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Today Michael is 14 years old. He has a cochlear implant that helps him hear, although his hearing is not like yours or mine. He attends a regular school and is on top of his class. My son is smart, sensitive and one of the most positive individuals I have ever known. He is the light of my life and of our family's.
We have always treated him like a regular child, and never lowered our expectations but rather modified them. Michael has taught us a great deal about overcoming obstacles, that everything is possible and about what really matters in life. Whether it is deafness, diabetes, autism... what is most important is to educate yourself about what it is that your child is facing and to seek the best possible treatments. I thank God for having come across good doctors, being able to provide Michael with the best treatments and living in a place where friends, family and even strangers have treated my child, not as an outcast, but as a special child, capable of great accomplishments, just like I do!
Oddly enough, this story of a family planning a trip to Italy helped me a lot. It was a family that dreamt for years about making it to Italy. They bought books, learned the language and planned every detail of their trip. When the day of the trip finally arrived, they felt really prepared! When they landed, the flight attendant's announcement welcomed them to Holland. "Holland???", said the family. "What? We're not in Italy? But we have everything set for Italy!" Needless to say, to land in Holland was not what they expected and their journey turning into something different--with sights, people and places unlike what they had hoped for, but still amazing and a true learning experience. My family's journey since Michael arrived has been much like this family's trip to Holland: unpredictable and new, but oh so very fullfilling and blessed with wonderful suprises.
Do you have a child with special needs who is the light of your life? What lessons have you learned from him or her? Tell me all about it in the Comments section below!