Family Support, Hands & Voices

Transitions ~ Helen Cotton Leiser


  1. process of change: a process or period in which something undergoes a change and passes from one state, stage, form, or activity to another.

As parents of any child we go through transitions as our children graduate to different stages in their own life. I am finding myself in that category right now as my baby just turned 5 (yikes! No more babies!!), and my oldest is about to turn 9 (that sounds so old!). Obviously as they gain more independence so do I which is incredible (and timely!!) 

There is also a level of angst in this next phase of our life. My girls have been nicely wrapped up in the arms of a great private school for the last 7 years. By the end of this month we will know if they have been accepted at one of the mainstream schools we’ve applied for next fall. Why leave such a wonderful school that has taught my girls so well and has held and supported me in the early, tenuous years? Well, it’s time. The thought of leaving our school makes me incredibly sad, but I know that with transition and change come so many incredible opportunities. 

The other part of my angst is that as the girls get older there are so many more things to teach them! Just the other day at the grocery store I mentioned needing to go back to the ‘produce’ department. Neither girl knew what I meant. “The produce department”, I said. They both looked at me vacantly. Immediately I went into panic mode. “I haven’t taught them about the departments in a grocery store and soon enough I am going to have teach about some really important things about life! I am terrible at this! I am clearly NOT ready!” I screamed internally at myself. 

I remember listening to some of Hands & Voices colleagues and fellow parents talk about the grief they re-entered as their child grew up and transitioned into pre-school, middle school and college. I know these changes are tough on any parent, and I think for us as parents of deaf/hard of hearing children there is a deeper layer of grief, and release that we experience. When Ashlin moved from Early Intervention into pre-school I encountered so much anxiety. I had such a strong, personal relationship with our Early Intervention provider who took care of me as much as she did my daughter. Who was going to fill that void for me? There was also physical space created as I no longer had weekly Early Intervention appointments. What would I do with that time? Actually work?! That particular transition, just like the one I am currently entering, gave me space and time to focus on myself. I am currently finding that to be an uncomfortable place to be in. 

For the last 7 years (Ashlin was identified at 18 months as deaf), I have fought insurance companies, got a legislative bill passed, learned and learned some more, gone to countless appointments, learned how to teach my girls language…. And, thankfully, I also walked into my role with Hands &Voices. And now with this new transition a space has been created so that I can really grow and succeed in my own life. 

Last year’s theme at the Hands & Voices Leadership conference was about creating balance. I was interpreting that as taking time to go for a run and maybe have a girl’s night out every so often. Almost a year later (okay, so I can be a slow learner!!), I think the message was really about remembering who we are at our core; feeding our core being so that as we encounter these transitions with our children we aren’t so lost. In the beginning of this journey it is definitely challenging, but I encourage you to try. Do something each day or each week that feeds your core being.

And yes, the girls now know all the departments in a grocery store. They learned that same day! The other shoppers likely thought I was crazy (well, I did have a crazed panic look on my face!), but I feel better as a mother!



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