I’ve heard it so many times about the “looks” that people get when they are different.
It’s not like I never believed it, but I think I always explained it away, chalking it up to people who are just mean.
Now, our family is the one who is different, and I see it so, well, differently.
Last week, I took the kids to preschool open gym at our park district. I’d been many times before with Emerie, and I felt pretty accomplished as a mom packing up two kids and heading there in the middle of winter, for the first time.
The turnout there was pretty sparse, but there was a tiny moment, like I’ve had multiple times before, that I suddenly and unexpectedly felt different. Another mom there did a double-take, and, as I do every time, I briefly had to ask myself what she was looking at.
Then, I realized it was Evan’s hearing aids that made her take a second look.
I think sometimes this double-take is viewed as something malicious, but I know it is not. I’m certain the woman simply noticed something shiny behind Evan’s ears and took another look to try to figure out what it was.
I’m also certain that she was trying to keep from making me uncomfortable when she quickly looked away when I noticed her. It’s that well-intentioned moment, though, that tips the scales.
Suddenly, I felt like an outsider in the room.
Each time I sit in front of my computer and write about something uncomfortable like this, my instinct is usually to reframe it into a positive. And, in the moment, I did reframe it, thinking that it’s pretty cool that his hearing aids allow him to physically stand out as someone special.
For whatever reason, though, I felt different, and uncomfortable. Sometimes, as positive as it can be for me to reframe things, I think I also need to be a little more comfortable with the discomfort.
I think it comes down to a big reason I write this blog. Motherhood can feel really lonely, even when you’re pretty much never alone, and activities like open gym are one of those situations where a mom can go and be among people who are in the same boat, even if it is simply just a silent understanding.
As I’ve said before, though, our life now is something that people can’t understand unless they’ve lived it. So, I will look (and am looking) around for people who have things in common with us, particularly when it comes to hearing loss, as I thankfully have a handful of great heart moms just a text away.
Really, this is a great lesson for all aspects of our lives. We are growing and changing every day. Sometimes, we try to make, or even expect, people who are already a part of our lives to fit into whatever we have going on. And they can, but maybe not always in the way that we need. So, it’s always a good idea to search for people you can connect with in all variety of ways, because life–and parenting–certainly is complicated, no matter how you slice it.
We’re all different, and that’s what makes us great. But, maybe, the “village” we know that “it” takes is a village full of people that connect with all the different parts of us and all the different needs that we have. When we build our village with intentionality, paying attention to all the aspects of who we are, we can embrace our differences and really feel whole.