Kyersten (18-years-old) is a contributor to Hearing Elmo. She has only known her mother as a person with hearing loss. Recognizing, supporting, and loving a parent with hearing loss and balance problems, does not mean that sometimes it is acknowledged that the disability GETS IN THE WAY.
On October 25th, 2008, my Dad, Mom, and I woke up at “4 something” in the morning. The horror! The earli-ness! With bleary eyes and a lot of yawns, we stumbled to the car in order to drive about three hours to visit Waynesburg University. Waynesburg is the first on my list of colleges to visit. I am currently trying to decide where to transfer, and my parents are supporting me in my quest for the Perfect Fit.
The trip was uneventful, but rainy and foggy. We were rather glad to finally arrive.
We arrived a bit later than we had hoped, so Dad dropped mom and I off and went to park. Mom and I stood patiently (okay… impatiently) urging Chloe to “hurry up” (go to the bathroom). It was very wet and she was stubborn, so we went inside. We were greeted by a very sweet “student ambassador” and I was given a packet of information.
Mom and I then went to “hurry up” ourselves. Next, we walked into the main room, with Dad, who had arrived rather “wet”. A lady gestured us toward some seats and we sat down, only to stand up ten minutes later (having missed most of the introduction remarks).
Mom went outside to encourage Chloe to “hurry up”, as she still had not yet gone. She went ahead of us, so Dad and I lost track of where she was. I told Dad to go look for her, and continued on with the group. I felt a little awkward being the only student in the tour group without parents, but, I told myself I was learning to be independent.
Dad texted me and soon found me with the group. He was by himself. Mom had stayed in the van with Chloe.
So, Dad and I continued on the tour. I got a text from my mom. Her texts always make me smile; they are full of the shortened words associated with someone wanting to get a message to someone in as little time as possible, “Do not worry about me. chloe and me r hangn at van. tell dad 2 stay with u. am dizzy nyway!” I didn’t know until later that she had cried for a good twenty minutes as she texted that.
Dad and I continued the tour, which was very interesting. I really loved the small, yet beautiful, friendly college. Despite the rain, you could see the beauty of the architecture of the buildings, as well as the small-town charm of the city surrounding it.
After the tour, my Dad and I walked quickly back to the van to fetch Mom. She was surprised to see us and a little hesitant, but she “dressed” Chloe in her vest and accompanied us as the rain had stopped. We went to find the classroom where our meeting with a psychology professor was being held. (My chosen major is psychology). The building was at the bottom of a flight of stairs. Mom wasn’t sure she could make it, and hesitated. A helpful woman saw us and showed us to another floor, from where we took the elevator down to the floor where our meeting was located. After that meeting, we made our way to the bookstore.
Mom and I had a small argument about colleges on our way to the bookstore. Frustrated, I went to search for a sweatshirt. Mom came into the store.
“Hey, want to help me find a good color?” I asked.
“I’m really dizzy, I am going to stand here,” she answered. I clenched my teeth and continued shopping. I felt selfish for being aggravated at mom for not coming to help me.
We then made our way to the cafeteria, everyone’s tempers now on edge. A woman stopped us as we tried to go into the cafeteria.
“Is that a seeing eye dog?” she asked suspiciously.
Mom looked surprised and offended, “I am not blind,” she said quickly. She then launched into her speech about what Chloe did and the law that allows Chloe to accompany Mom anywhere. Mom then offered to give the lady literature. The woman refused, saying she”just hadn’t seen something like Chloe before”.
We went to find a table. Dad went to go get his and mom’s food as it was a buffet-type of cafeteria. Handling an assistance dog at a buffet is NOT easy business!
“Do you think I should give the lady literature about assistance dogs on our way out?” Mom asked.
“No, she said she didn’t want it,” I answered.
Mom and I are A LOT alike in many areas, but when it comes to conflict, we handle it differently. Admittedly, mine is probably a worse way to handle it. I withdraw and avoid conflict. Mom isn’t scared of it, and wanted to make sure the woman didn’t bother other assistance teams in the future.
She said as much.
“I just shouldn’t have come; I’m obviously not doing any good. I wish to God y’all had left me in the car,” Mom said.
I started crying.
Now ANYONE who knows me knows that… a) I am not a crier b) I dislike crying, and c) I never, EVER cry in public.
The meal went downhill from there. I refused to eat, so Mom refused to eat. Dad had a concerned look on his face, but it didn’t stop him from eating his plate of food and Mom’s. Such a man.
I went to the car to get away from everything, Mom following behind, Dad finishing the meal and then coming after us.
We worked it out. That’s what a family does after all; you HAVE to live with each other, so HAVE to resolve issues.
Mom was upset because she felt like I was purposefully disagreeing with everything she said.
I was upset because I felt like she didn’t want to be involved anymore.
I know my mom has a disability, two actually, if you count her balance. I know that there are some things she can’t do. Dad and I mentioned a couple of times on the tour that it was good she didn’t come. With the slippery sidewalks, lots of stairs, and a tour guide he and I couldn’t even hear sometimes, she would not have enjoyed it. However, I want her to be as involved in my hunt for the Perfect Fit as much as she can. She’s my mom.
She and I are a lot alike. And she knows me better than anyone. Dad’s advice I greatly appreciate and value. However, he has more of a Type A, competitive personality, whereas I have a quieter personality. His idea of the Perfect Fit would probably not be the same as mine.
To me, this is one of the last things in my life that I will need my parent’s involvement. It’s a huge step into the world of adulthood and responsibility.
I don’t want Mom to let her disability keep her from being my Mom. I realize she may not be able to do everything or may have to have special accommodations to be able to do some things. But the extra work to allow her to come along is worth it, because she is my mom. I need her… just the way she is.
© 2008 Hearing Loss Journal