Mother's Day Meditations II: Beautiful, Prickly Salad

Mother's Day Meditations II: Beautiful, Prickly Salad

Everything about a dandelion screams "childhood."  Dandelions themselves seem to be the plant equivalent of children; correspondingly, you could say children are the human version of the dandelion.  They are sunny and smiley and errant and raggedy.

Dandelions shout for children to pick them and give them to their mothers.

This is a dandelion story.

I have a few friends with children who are deaf like my daughter.  We're a little bit of a club.  We know what it is to have a deaf or hard of hearing child.  And while not all deaf and hard of hearing children are the same, they are all experiencing the world similarly.

I don't know the entirety of that experience.  I'm not deaf.

I know a little of it, though.  I can see quite clearly that one of the biggest things my daughter faces each day is frustration--at trying to understand, to keep up, to be aware; at not being understood, not heard, and unable to express herself how she wants.  Simply navigating the world around her requires more effort and more patience and more resourcefulness from her than many adults have.  Certainly she doesn't always have those resources ready to hand when something challenging comes along.  And when the challenge is too big?

The outcome can be incendiary.

Ah, well, I'm used to it now.  We all are, as much as you can be, we moms of kids who are deaf or hard of hearing.  We're used to the hard parts, and wide-eyed in awe at the never-ending surprising parts.

My friend's daughter, equal parts awe-inspiring and incendiary.  Just like mine.  They put us through our paces.  We work with them on speech sounds, language acquisition, self-advocacy, how to socialize, how to understand jokes and figures of speech, how to read tones of voice that simply aren't heard as intended.  Keeping frustration in check and pushing hard enough to see growth--that's a delicate balance.  Encouraging and inspiring but not overprotecting or rescuing--a delicate balance.

When the balance gets upset, sometimes it's much more tears than calm.  Frustration holds sway and all sides shout to be heard, or to silence.

Really, mothering a deaf or hard-of-hearing child is not so different than mothering one who is not.  It's just mothering--maybe with a side order of intensity, an extra helping of miscommunication.

Sometimes just mothering is a prickly proposition.  We actual mothers know that the way our lot is depicted in media--in everything from cloudy-edged photographs on the backs of cereal boxes telling us to build couch-cushion forts with our child, to clean-lined gorgeously photographed mommy blogs featuring clever mothers doing hand-carded woolen crafts with their rosy children, to endless shallow articles in parenting magazines which purport to end bedwetting or tantrums in 3 easy steps--the images put before us mothers almost never correspond with the reality of mothering.  Instead, the cereal's on the floor, there aren't actually any crafts, and the bedwetting?  No three easy steps there.  Instead your child tells you that they're just feeling too lazy to get up.

Sometimes it doesn't come out how you meant it, back when you were reading those magazines. Sometimes it doesn't look at all like what you thought.

It looks prickly.  Raggedy.  Errant.  It looks like dandelion greens.

My friend's daughter.  She's a child so she knows her dandelions.  She went on a well-timed jag recently, an outpouring of love on her mother.  She went the dandelion bouquet one better.   She picked her mom a salad from her back yard: dandelion greens, lemon-mint, and flowering chives.  Equal parts sweet, bitter, and beautiful.

Her follow up was a gift of a frame made with paper and lots of staples, given with a flourish: "Mommy, I love you so much. You are the best parent I have ever had. You have given me all the love you could, and you have tried to be patient."

Even raggedy and errant, all our dandelions know two things to be true: mothers are trying their hardest.  And we too are raggedy and errant.


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  • Love it! "You are the best parent I ever had." Priceless!

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    What a beautiful story. I love that it's real and from the heart! I will be sharing this. I don't know if you know this but I have a brother that is deaf. It was interesting growing up and even as an adult. I also had a deaf roommate and misunderstandings happened all the time. Some of them quite funny, Like when we finished watching a movie and I signed good tree instead of good movie. Thank you for sharing this Julie!

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    this is so so beautiful. i can't believe i nearly missed it. nothing raggedy about it. pure beautiful. thank you. you made me think about the delicate balance, and the bottling-up frustrations, and the trying to find that sacred fine line......

  • Bammy, thanks for stopping by and for your kind comments! Things over in our garden always seem like they need weeding. But some of my favorite plants are weeds, like clovers and dandelions, so it turns out to be okay after all.

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