I’d like to start by confessing something to you. It’s kind of embarrassing, but…here goes.
Writing Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom was like giving birth to an elephant baby. You see, I never intended to sit down and write a book about all my issues. I can go to my counselor for that! I grew up in a loving, humble family where modesty was valued. In the Oklahoma small town where I grew up, everybody knew everybody. But even though they might know all the dirty scoop, it’s scandalous to write a book about it!
But I did. My elephant of a story has entered the world.
Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom is the true-story of my gradual journey into deafness and how I coped as a mother of three. Within minutes, I had given birth to my oldest son, then developed an obnoxious ringing sound in my ears. Doctors couldn’t determine the cause of my sudden hearing loss, only that I would endure more loss before potentially going deaf. With each baby I carried and gave birth to, more loss developed. Was there a connection?
I attempted to lip read my children. As newborns, I slept close to them so I could see and feel their lips. I carried a baby monitor with flashing red lights that alerted me to their cries. When driving, I watched my kids through the rearview mirror as they asked me nonstop questions. Not a brilliant idea when speeding down the interstate at 70 miles an hour.
“Where are we going?” they’d ask.
What my ears heard: “Wa’ are go?”
While navigating the rough waters, I dealt with denial, years of depression (that goes back generations in my family), and anger. I wanted to be any person but myself.
Then I lost someone I loved. The sudden death of my sister at age 29 opened my eyes. I was still alive. Maybe God had a purpose for me as a lipreading mom after all.
It took me several months to write this book. I wrote when my kids slept or were at school. I made it a goal to write a minimum of 20 minutes a day, five days a week. Some weeks I met this goal, other weeks I didn’t. You see, I had written my first book, Lip Reader, when my kids still took naps. And they took long naps! This was a novel that required imagination and concentration—which is tough if the kids are crawling all over me!
Someone asked me—How was it different writing a fiction book than nonfiction?
My answer would be that they are different in how they are structured. For me, writing a novel was like going to recess every day. I could enter the playground of my imagination and get carried away with its twists, dips, and swings. I loved having that freedom of space and place. Writing a memoir, although nonfiction, is similar in that I still can be creative with how I describe people and places. But nonfiction is very real, I can’t lie, so I feel like I’m on a playground but have a leash wrapped around me. I must remain true to the story. I can’t just make stuff up!
Another question: What did I learn from writing this book?
For me, hearing loss wasn’t a death sentence, but a wake-up call.
Writing about hearing loss helped me to see the silver lining in a dark cloud of uncertainty. I realized that my purpose, besides being a wife and mom, was to write this book. To share my story. Hopefully, it will speak to others, and maybe even give them hope.
I thought we would end with something fun. This week on my Facebook page, you may have played my game “Can You Name My Sign?” Each day, I shared a mystery word in sign language. There is a cool reason why I selected the words that I did. Here they are:
Monday was PRETEND
Tuesday was STORY
Wednesday was HARD OF HEARING
Thursday was HEAVEN
Friday was I LOVE YOU
Here are my 5 confessions about this game:
I confess that I used to pretend I didn’t have hearing loss.
I confess that it was easier to write a fictional story—Lip Reader—than a true story about myself.
I confess that being hard of hearing wasn’t my choice.
I confess I dream about heaven sometimes and the people I love who are there.
I confess that there are no greater words to hear than my three kids shouting in unison, “I love you, Mom!”
I can stop pretending that sharing my story about being hard of hearing isn’t anything but a heaven-sent opportunity to let my kids know how much I love them, too.
Now, I have a question for you. In one word, what does hearing loss mean to you?
My one word: Confess. I confess that I have hearing loss, that I’m a Lipreading Mom. And that’s okay.