Sunday, November 21, 2004

On Mothers, Nurturing and Nursing

I've had the following thought a few times in the past week, "Gee, Mom, maybe you weren't such a bad mother after all"

I don't want to imply that my mother may have resembled Mommy Dearest in the recesses of my memories, but maybe she did, a little bit.

I have memories of a mother who would come home at the end of a long day teaching other people's bratty difficult children, and be too tired to listen to her own kids. I remember the first time I saw her teaching in her classroom (which was unfortunately located in my own public high school) and was wowed by the amount of patience she had...for someone else's kids.

My mother is a good friend, not so much a mother, more of a close friend. I remember I had once starting dating this guy, let's call him Steve, and though I really liked his personality, I was having trouble feeling attracted to him and feeling the chemistry. I asked my mom for her advice, and she said, "Just close your eyes and kiss him. Shove your tongue down his throat. And if you're still not into him, I'd say move on."

A friend was standing next to me while I was having this conversation on the phone with my mom. When I got off she said, "Please tell me that wasn't your mom you were talking to. Please tell me that was a friend you just happen to call Mommy, as a joke." And I thought to myself, that pretty much describes my relationship with my mother in a nutshell. She's a friend, whom I call Mommy.

Anyway, we've been hanging out a bit recently (now that we live in the same city, after 9 years of living a minimum of 6 hours' drive apart) and she'll remind me of things she did when we were kids, things I've totally forgotten. And I realize, she was a much better mother than I give her credit for. Like my brother's wife is due this week with their second child. And my mom made sure to buy some gifts for their eldest child, so she won't feel slighted when the gifts start rolling in for her new brother or sister. Then my mom asked if I remembered that she did that for all of us. Every time she had a baby (and I am number 2 out of 6) she would make sure she had presents wrapped for each of the existing children before she went into labor, so when we came to the hospital to visit her and our new sibling, she could hand us a gift-wrapped package and say, "Here's a present from the new baby." So that we wouldn't be jealous of the new kid, and maybe would even like them a little.

I took her yesterday to a new oncologist - she had breast cancer a while back and has had some things that need to be watched now - at my hospital, Hadassah. I went with because I wasn't sure of the English/Hebrew situation, and in the end it was good I was there. Hearing my mom's complete medical history made me appreciate her a whole lot more...the fact that she's still around seemed mildly miraculous. And she is very much a friend called Mommy.

After we were done with her appointment, and I was about to head off into class, I noticed this very pregnant woman, with a 4 year old girl in hand, on the verge of tears trying to speak to the receptionist in not the best Hebrew. Since we were in the Oncology Institute, I knew whatever issues she had could not have been good. Eavesdropping, I figured out that both she and the little girl needed blood tests, in 2 different parts of the hospital, within the next 10 minutes, that she didn't know her way around the hospital (which is a maze) and was scared.

I offered her a hug, and my translation services, and told her I would take her to wherever she needed to get to next in order to find her way. I ended up spending 1.5 hours with her, shuttling her around and wielding whatever teeny amount of power I had to get her tests over with, so she could go home to her husband. I felt like she was my patient - my first patient - and that even though I didn't draw her blood, I was her nurse. I experienced first-hand what I already knew about nursing - that caring for a patient is not necessarily about the medical things you do for them - it's doing whatever you can to make them feel better. And if that's alleviating their fears by talking to them, or by simply showing them the way to their next destination, or taking their blood to the lab for them so they can catch their bus and get home sooner, if it helps your patient, you've "nursed" them.

I only recently realized (like last week) that the words for "nursing" and "nurturing" are from the same root. In Hebrew its even more obvious. Nurses are called "achot" (sister) but "nursing" is "si'ud" from the same root as "se'uda" (a large meal) and comes from the root "Samech, Ayin, Heh" - to nurture.

So even though my mom doesn't fully approve (yet) of my Nursing studies, she is probably responsible for my interest in "nurturing". Because as I'm realizing more and more, she was an excellent mother, who nurtured her children to the best of her ability. And someday, I may even tell her that.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

lovely post, lovely deed.
thank you

7:50 AM  
Blogger TheHock said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:57 PM  
Blogger The Lioness said...

Lovely. I would tell her soon. :)

10:52 PM  

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