When I was asked to speak to a moms group at church, I thought of the boldest way to make an entrance. Holding a plastic scepter and donning an old bridesmaid’s dress, I twirled around the room singing.
“I am a princess!”
It wasn’t the dress or impromptu dance that made me feel courageous. My hair was pulled back in an up-do that showed all the moms what I had been hiding for two years. A set of hearing aids.
It had become a habit to pretend. After being diagnosed with progressive hearing loss a few months after my son was born, I felt safer wearing my hair down and pretending like I had normal hearing. It was easier to laugh at the punch line than to tell my friends I didn’t hear the entire joke. I dominated conversations because there was less chance of someone having to repeat what they said if they didn’t get a chance to talk.
When I stepped onto the stage ready to speak about overcoming fear, I quickly scanned the audience for their reaction. Not one person turned her head at the shocking sight of my hearing aids. It was like, So she’s hard of hearing. Well, that’s okay. The weight of two years of worry seemed to lift off my shoulders, and I finished my speech feeling confident and beautiful.
A few weeks later, I received an e-mail from a new mom in our group. Michelle wrote about how a stroke had paralyzed half of her body a few years back. She was a wheelchair user first, but extensive physical therapy enabled her to walk with a strong limp and use one of her hands. Michelle felt a lot better after my presentation because she realized she isn’t the only young mom in our group with physical disabilities.
There may be a limit to what I can hear, and I may not catch most jokes. Still, I’m glad I dressed up and potentially made a fool out of myself because it inspired someone else.
It was hard to pretend I could hear and much more fun to be a princess…and help somebody.