Mom is on a train for the city. It has been fabulous having her here. Tona was right to put it in this context, “How would you feel if one of your kids was seriously hurt and they said, ‘I’m fine. You don’t have to take care of me.’?”
So, I said, “Please come and take care of us.”
And she did.
The reason mom is great, beyond the house being cleaner than ever and all the laundry being done and the fridge full of Filipino food…is that she took care of me in a way that didn’t assume I was on the verge of failure.
Joy came over this weekend and we chatted for a long while. We both went on a rant about folks who treated you like you were frail, or child-like, or worse-yet stupid. For Joy it was a matter of people doing things like running to her whenever she stood up, or even to the point where they buckled the car seat for her. Not to say there wasn’t a time or that there was not a need for help for these tasks, but the assumption that you needed it, and done in a way that assumed that you couldn’t, that everything was important or dire. It’s being treated like you’re a child. The thing we/I am fighting for is agency, that I control my life.
The motivations are suspect. That I cannot be trusted with my own well-being. That the helper is getting off on helping or controlling the situation. In fact, I know it is an exertion of control over a situation the helper does not like. But it is annoying as hell to have someone else trying to control your life when what you want is just that – agency…control.
I was out on disability for a while with a repetitive motion disorder from interpreting…basically a combo of Carpel Tunnel Syndrome and tendonitis everywhere. That was tough. What was worse were some from this service community of which I was part – social workers, interpreters, others – who looked at me with pity and such exaggerated care that it felt creepily dysfunctional. Seriously felt like they got off on it. And that means exactly what it means – hence the creepiness. There was (probably is) a large percentage of people in the service community who are adult children of <somethinghere>. Enablers. People whose job and eventual identity lay in helping/controlling/fixing things. Some of it took the form of proselytizing. Others took the form of I’ll-do-it-for-you-itis.
So mom is the perfect caretaker: for doing the things she always does because she’s great at it, and just making it so I didn’t have to take care of the small things, for letting me find my own limits and trying every day to pass them and letting me try to fail.