My mother recently had a surgery. She has limited mobility and it will take her at least 2-3 months before resuming most of her regular activities. Between me and my sister, we staggered our stays so that we could be with her as much as possible.
One day I was sponging her and she said, “What days have come, now I have to ask you guys to do this also.” I looked up and saw her eyes were closed and her face had an expression that she wasn’t comfortable with me doing it. It wasn’t the act of sponging, it was the fact that her daughter was doing it. In the hospital, the nurse used to sponge her and it didn’t bother her as much.
When I asked her why, she said because it’s their work.
What I heard was because that’s a clear transactional relationship. Since we are paying for the care, it is okay to ask for it.
But when it comes to family, many of us struggle to ask. I sat with that thought for some time and went back to my own time when I was hospitalized and every day my husband had to clean my wounds and do my dressing and how uncomfortable I was with it. Why is that so?
The answer that came to me was that culturally we are taught to be strong and to not show our weaknesses and somewhere our brains have made this connection that asking was help = showing your weakness.
As I dug deeper into the thought, I asked myself,
- Isn’t the awareness and then the acceptance of one’s need a sign of strength?
- Isn’t knowing that I alone cannot fulfill this need a sign of strength?
- Isn’t having a support system to rely on a sign of strength?
With my mother, I couldn’t share these reflections. All I said to her was that I was doing it with pleasure. I am grateful that I was near her when she needed me and that I could meet some of those needs.
In my actions, I tried to bring as much dignity and as much humility as I could.
In my heart, I kept sending gratitude for the opportunity to serve.
PS: both images on this post are stock images used to convey the emotion.