Close up color image of a younger woman holding an older woman's hand in a hospital bed. The older woman has an IV in the back of her hand.

Do You Really Know How to Take Care of Others? Creating a Mission Statement for Everything

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Do you really know how to take care of someone? I’m only asking because I actually didn’t. I thought I did. My version of caring for someone was to do everything I thought they needed done. I would even, at times, force them to do things they were “supposed to do.” I spent almost no time listening to what the person was actually asking of me. And now, as our family navigates cancer, I’ve been giving this question a lot of thought: How do I want to take care of Mom?

Many moons ago, a friend taught me how to write a mission statement. When I face a new challenge or a new chapter, I try to hone in on the most important thing or things to remember when navigating new waters. Then, I put those missions in the form of phrases. The statements become a touchstone that I can always come back to when I’m feeling lost.

As I work out my mission in relation to Mom, it’s important to me that she always know her comfort level is of utmost importance. Words like, “patience,” “dignity,” and “respect,” come to mind. This is very much Mom’s journey and I want to continually remind myself that my role is to walk with Mom, not for Mom.

Mom’s not a demanding person at all, so I could easily go crazy getting her things she didn’t ask for. I could also spend time telling her what she “should” do and how she “should” do it. But “shoulding” on Mom is not my mission. My mission is to respect Mom’s inner knowing—to be her ears when the medical jargon is just too much to take in, to accept every speed bump, and to gently advocate for her when she’s not getting something she needs. My mission is to listen to both what’s being said by Mom, and maybe what’s not being said by her. 

There are certainly opportunities to give Mom things she might not have asked for: some cold ginger ale, a pillow adjustment, a warm blanket. But I’m here to hold her hand, not lead the way. I’m here to provide a space where she can feel completely loved, cherished, and respected.

As a quick example, this week I have been able to help by sending Mom the name and address of her pregnant nurse from her December visit to Memorial Sloan Kettering. Mom just finished knitting a sweater for Nurse Taylor’s baby, due in March. It all comes with the territory TeamC!


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    Welcome to my blog! Here you can read about what’s on my mind as I try my best to recover from screaming at my kids and nagging the bejesus out my husband.

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