Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Aside from briefly working at a department store, the only job that I can recall my mom having is as an aide in a psychiatric unit.  About 15 years ago, she went back to school to earn her RN and gets paid boat loads more for doing the same work. When I still was too young to leave unsupervised, my mom would occasionally bring me to work with her to pick up her paycheck or for a quick meeting.

Surprisingly, it was actually perfectly safe. My mom worked on a voluntary unit, which meant the patients were there because they wanted to be and not because they were forced to. Her co-workers doted over me, buying me snacks from the vending machines and giving me markers and paper to color with. If my mom had a staff meeting, I was allowed to play in one of the vacant rooms and use the intercom to sing and chat with the nurses at the front desk. One of my favorite stories they shared with me was the young girl visiting the unit that answered, "...God?" when her name was called over the intercom.

As a girl, I was wildly embarrassed about being there and proud of her all at the same time. There was a certain amount of stigma to get over. It was hardly like my mom worked for a dentist or as a checker at the grocery store, like a 'normal' mom would.

As an adult, many people have told me that they could not imagine working in such a profession. I am sure that my mom has heard this dozens of times herself. However, she is so extraordinarily loving, patient, firm and skilled that people under the hardest and most stressful conditions respond to her.

Several years ago, the two of us were at a restaurant during my mom's visit when a woman approached our table. She said that although she didn't expect to be remembered, she wanted to thank my mom for supporting her during a difficult time and that she would always remember her kindness. I was incredibly touched by this gesture, and I know my mom was as well. What makes this moment even more extraordinary is that my mom hasn't worked in California for over 25 years.

I love you, Mom. Thank you for continuing to inspire me and others around you. Happy Mother's Day!

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