Ian Noon: A tribute to my mother and other mums of deaf children

Posted on March 24, 2017

Sadly, my Mum passed away last March. For the past year, I’ve been thinking a lot about her life and the challenges she faced.

So for this year’s Mother’s Day, I thought I’d pay tribute to her life and hopefully send a message to all other Mums of deaf children how amazing they are too.

(Dads are amazing too but will focus on Mums today for obvious reasons)

Mum grew up in a time where disabled people were invisible in society and largely hidden away in homes. She said she’d rarely ever met anyone who was disabled and certainly not anyone who was deaf.

Ian and his sister with their mum

She was one of the 90% of parents of deaf children who had no prior connection to deafness. And then she ended up having not one, but two deaf children.

But one of the things that made my Mum so amazing was her bloody-mindedness. She took some time to grieve and get over the shock. And then she got on with things.

She listened to the Teachers of the Deaf who came round to the house and hoovered up everything they said about having high expectations and getting all the language drilled into me.

She would read into my ears as I went to sleep and got to grips with the big clunky old microphones from back in the 80s. She talked to me all day and made it clear she expected me to reply.

She never corrected me when I mispronounced things but just nudged me in the right direction without me realising. She praised me all the time for just trying and even when I was a grown 30something living in London told me how proud she was of me whenever she spoke to me.

She noticed how the other Mums would sometimes look at us and make unkind remarks – she never let it get her down.

If she was worried that the teachers at school were doing something wrong, she told them to sort it. She worked hard to get us a good education and worked even harder to help us catch up on anything we missed out on when we got home. And she gave us breaks when we needed it and more-than-occasional treats to reward us.

I know later in life she worried about the choices she made for us. The local authority we grew up in, Leicestershire, was at the time, very pro-oral and parents weren’t really given any information to help them make informed choices.

I sometimes suspected that she regretted not learning sign language herself, if only to visually support all the spoken language she was giving us.

If she had survived the stroke that eventually brought her down, I would have told her we had nothing but gratitude and respect for all the decisions she had to make and never held anything against her. And if I’ve inherited just a quarter of my Mum’s determination, I’ll be happy.

Being a Mum is hard. Being a Mum of a disabled child is even harder, wading through all the information, having to make choices without knowing if they’re the right ones whilst also doing everything else that Mums are expected to.

It’s exhausting having to fight for your child and be bloody-minded all the time. It shouldn’t have to be. But that Mums do fight and do struggle is what makes them extra special.

I hope that on Mother’s day, Mums of deaf children everywhere know and will remember how grateful their children are that they do.

My Mum did her best. And she was amazing for it.

Read Ian’s previous articles for us here.

Ian Noon has been profoundly deaf since birth, giving him an interesting perspective “on what needs to change for deaf children and young people in the UK. It also means I have very questionable taste in music.” When he’s not stealing the biscuits in the office, he runs, does yoga and plans his next backpacking holiday. He works for a deaf charity but his views expressed on his blog and here, are his own. Follow him on Twitter as @IanNoon

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