I am the luckiest person in the world....

I am the luckiest person in the world....

You want to know something crazy?

15 years ago, I knew nothing about Auslan or the Deaf community.
In fact, I didn't even know there was a Deaf community! I'd only left high school two years before and had deferred my university degree, because I had nooooo clue what I wanted for my future and figured joyriding around Europe (avoiding responsibility!) was as good a plan as any. And I'll be honest - it was a GREAT plan.
But on my eventual return to reality, with half a teaching degree under my belt and no job... I realised pretty quickly I needed to get my act together! I desperately needed work, but after working in bars across the UK, the resume was a little limited...

Enter, my mother.

Look - my mum has always been a bit "intuitive" when it comes to life in general and I think she could see I was still floating around in Europe in my head with my feet somewhere between Greece and Australia.
So she did what any mother would do. She started applying for jobs, without me knowing.
Yes, you read that right. Mum was literally handing my CV out like her life depended on it! (And come to think of it - maybe it did).
A little intrusive? Perhaps. But looking back, she just knew me too well and knew I was a 21 year old uni student sitting around on my unmotivated butt waiting for someone to kick it. That someone, was her.

I actually still remember sitting at this cafe with a friend, when I got the call. 

I didn't recognise the number, but figured it was either someone calling about a job or someone calling to scam me so figured either way, I was up for an adventure! It took me a while to figure out I was in fact NOT being scammed and someone actually wanted me for an interview. What luck!
Of course, I played it exceptionally cool and pretended I knew exactly who she was (when in reality, I had NO CLUE who she was or why she was calling me) but eventually I pieced together that she was the director of an outside school hours care near where I lived.
Clearly one of my mother's applications had been successful.

But at the time, I had no idea what a defining moment that phone call would be...

I arrived at my interview 3 days later and within seconds of walking in, I instantly noticed how many people around me were using their hands to communicate. I'd never seen anything like it! Adults and younger children alike, all signing and all engaged in play together. On closer inspection, I soon realised some of the children had hearing aids and one boy had cochlear implants (although at the time, I didn't know that's what they were called!). A quick side story: That little boy ended up being the first Deaf person I ever signed with and years later I actually became his Teacher of the Deaf in high school - crazy turn of events right?!
Anyway, my clearest memory of these early days was how quickly I was drawn to this signed language in front of me. I couldn't help staring at these amazing little people using their hands to communicate freely and happily. I was just in awe!
Thankfully, a few days later,  I got the call up that the job was mine and that I would need to learn basic Auslan (Australian Sign Language) in order to communicate with the students there. They all attended the local primary school up the hill, which just so happened to be a bilingual bicultural school for deaf and hearing children!

And, I guess you could say the rest is history!

Thinking back, I even remember my first ever Auslan lesson sitting in a tiny room with a Deaf man (who later became my colleague!) as he taught me the alphabet, numbers and basic colours. I was instantly hooked and as someone who has ALWAYS struggled with learning in an academic setting, I was amazed at how quickly I was able to retain what I was learning and use it in my work.
From there, I raced to complete all Auslan certificates (attending night classes while working full time), graduated from my teaching degree and began working in Deaf education right out of university. Needless to say, I never looked back.
I quickly became passionate about this field of work and creating better outcomes and futures for deaf and hard of hearing children. I was honestly just in awe of the brilliance and insight these little people showed me every day!

But life hadn't stopped dishing out the surprises quite yet.

Fast forward to 2021, and a verrrry pregnant me was working as the Head of Department for Deaf / Hard of Hearing at a high school on the Gold Coast. I was exhausted, I was working full-time and I was ready for a break from the field. In fact in that moment, after a few tough years, I wasn't sure if the career was still for me and I was welcoming maternity leave to hopefully provide some clarity for me...

And in February that year, clarity hit me like a tonne of bricks!

We welcomed our beautiful son Frank into the world. The most incredible addition to our little family! Yet even when the third newborn hearing screening came back inconclusive, I still was not prepared for the news I received 8 weeks later as I sat in a hospital room. The news that our little boy, our perfect Frank, was deaf.

Life doesn't get much more ironic than that!

Now.... just because I do what I do and I know what I know, doesn't mean I was any less bowled over by the initial grief, shock and absolute overwhelm that hit me when I found out about Frank. Oh it was there and it was immense. But there was another feeling lingering too.... 

This sense of knowing that this was MY baby and he was always meant to be my baby.

And that the past 14 years were in total preparation for this very moment. That there was some force bigger than myself that had planned this life for me, that had known this is where I would be and needed to be... for my son.

Frank's nearly 2 years old now and I couldn't imagine my life without him. He has been such an incredible gift for our family and has brought a deeper sense of love and understanding into our home along with the incredible language of Auslan. Frank (and his big bro Billy!) is a truly bilingual deaf kid who uses Auslan and spoken English to communicate. He is 'Mr Confident' in every way and a resilient little man who I know is going to kick absolute goals as he grows.

When I look back at my initial reaction on receiving the news about Frank...

I was really scared. Terrified actually. I felt uncertain and worried about what was ahead for him.

I cried a lot in those first few months - and now and again I still have a moment of emotional overwhelm (I'm human after all!). I guess I'd worked with so many deaf and hard of hearing youth who had faced such adversity in their lives, and I didn't want that for Frank. I didn't want his life to be "hard".

But you know what I realised? And what continues to guide me through each day...

Frank is his own little person, with his own unique journey ahead of him. He is already such a strong, assertive and confident little boy who doesn't need a mother worrying about him every step of the way. What he needs is a mother who will guide him, and support him and advocate beside him and ensure he knows exactly who he is and exactly what he deserves.

Frank has absolutely got this and I'm just along for the wild ride!

I always say it, but I really mean it every time.

What a privilege it is to raise a deaf child and what a privilege it is to educate deaf and hard of hearing children and watch them thrive every single day. 

This life is pretty damn spectacular.

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