by Apryl Chauhan
California Hands & Voices Board member
I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a woman.
Depending on the day or even the hour I may be more one than the other. In the early years of raising my oldest daughter Zahra, late identified as deaf, it seemed I was a drowning mother, terrified mother, unsure mother. Until I became the informed, empowered and powerful mother. In fact there were many unexpected titles clinging to my back like a superhero's cape; advocate, teacher, nurse. Those early years and the many years to come raising a deaf child along side two hearing children consumed me in everyway possible. I soaked up knowledge from other parents, educators and members of the Deaf community. I crossed the country, from state to state learning what I needed to raise a successful deaf child in workshops and conferences. Even in the infancy of my journey I began to pay it forward, standing side by side other parents as they took their first steps. My everything orbited around this brightly burning sun called "I have a deaf child" and as fascinating, shining and glorious as this experience was, it was also remarkably stressful, often heartbreaking and exhausting.
I read countless books in the quiet of my bathroom, the only place I wouldn’t be disturbed. I got gym memberships and convinced my husband to buy an elliptical machine for the house (which miraculously turned into a coat rack), I walked up hills, I rode my bike, I even caught my breathe for a moment with Yoga. For years I tried to catch that break I so desperately needed but through it all that well earned Super Mom cape continued to flap in the wind and sometimes it felt as thought it was getting in my way.
Then one day I walked into a Zumba class.
The music started, my instructor began to dance and I was completely lost and utterly in love. You see, long before I was a wife or a mother, long before I had to make "choices" on how to raise my child, I was just a girl who loved to dance. I don't think Id gone a day in my life from a very early age that I did not dance. I even danced through out my pregnancies. In that first Zumba class all of those nagging thoughts - you know the "what ifs", "what's next", "to do's" - fell silent as I struggled to learn the routine and my body rejoiced to be dancing again. During that first Zumba class my precious Super Mom cape quietly slipped off of my shoulders and stepped to the side waiting patiently until class was finished.
This was me.
This was my thing.
I was a Zumba student for many years before I took the plunge to become an instructor and even as I was being certified I thought it was just a life goal to cross off my list and not something I would actually use.
My husband was perhaps the first to comment on how happy it made me and to encourage me to really go for it. The kids and their friends watched me dance all over the house, hour after hour trying to learn enough routines to teach a class. Salsa, Merengue, Reggaeton, Bollywood and hip hop, in the kitchen, in the car, world music was everywhere. The entire family was coming with me on this journey.
Today I teach anywhere from 6-8 classes a week. I have added new dance fitness certifications to my repertoire and I am in the best shape of my life.
I have had the amazing pleasure of teaching at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont as well as for Super Mom's just like me at our Hands & Voices Mom's Night Inn. I also have deaf women in my weekly classes as regulars. All of my children (and even my husband) dance with me in class from time to time which makes this life change all the more precious.
Those few hours that I get to take my cape off, slip into my trendy dance gear, crank up the music and move, I am Apryl Chauhan Zumba Instructor. My body is stronger, I am healthier, confident and undoubtedly happier. This is not my career, it is my passion. It embodies me, as a woman, to the heart of who I am. That Super Mom cape will always have my back, ready to go in a jiffy, but it's okay to take it off for a few hours a day and just dance.