Dedicated to all the #mothers
©️Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker
In a city like Mumbai, most people live in nuclear families, and many a times, children have no option but to tag along with their parents even during medical consultations. Some people feel a tad awkward about getting children with them and leave them with caretakers. However, if responsible caretakers are not available, I wouldn’t refrain from saying that children can also be a barrier to seeking timely healthcare, especially when it comes to women’s health.
A few days back, we treated a lady for a breast abscess, and she had to come in for frequent dressings. Every day, she would bring her three years old daughter along with her. The daughter would just not leave the mother and cling to her all the time. She would refuse to sit outside in the waiting area and insisted on being inside the dressing room with her mother. On being denied, she would start crying inconsolably, and absolutely nothing would comfort her. Being a mother myself, I presumed that as the child was so small, she may have some degree of separation anxiety and wanted to be with the mother all the time. Hence, much to the chagrin of the staff at the hospital, I requested them to allow her to be with her mother during the dressing. This went on for almost 10 days….. It was the same story every day. Mother and daughter would come together, and while I did the dressing, the little girl would sit quietly on a chair inside the dressing room. On the last day, I asked the mother if the little girl was so clingy at home too. She just smiled and said that though she lived in a joint family, no one accompanied her for the hospital visits. The husband had to be at work, and the others were busy with their own lives.
Her three years old daughter came with her every day because no one else came. She didn’t want her mother to come alone to the hospital. That was her way of supporting her mother. By being on her side…. All through…..
It set me thinking about how mistaken I was in my thought process. This little human was not a barrier for her mother’s treatment. She was, in fact, the enabler. Any surgery, however small, is a big deal for a patient. One needs physical, mental, and emotional support, and all these go a long way in the healing process. At the tender age of three, she understood this well and, in her own sweet way, supported her mother by being there for her.
May is the month of the “mother”. I am a mother myself, and honestly, many times, it can get a little overwhelming to manage a kid, family, home, and work together. As a mother, I think of myself as the doer who is not allowed to be vulnerable. I believe that it is my job to take care of the needs of my child, my family, and my patients. I feel that all of them look up to me, and meeting these expectations is an unquestionable and integral part of life.
However, this episode set me thinking about all the times when my child tries to support me through difficult times in his own innocent ways. If I complain of a headache, he brings slices of cucumber and puts them on my eyes. If I look tired, he brings me a glass of water. If I look stressed, he asks me if everything is okay at the hospital.
Children try to comfort us in their own sweet way, and it is up to us to allow them to help us and accept their help. Mother’s Day is not meant to make us sit on an unreachable pedestal. Some degree of vulnerability can make mothers a little more human. Be vulnerable, and next time when your child offers you help, do accept it. It will definitely make your journey a lot easier and bring a smile to your face.