So, I recognize the title might make you assume I’m thanking my own mom, but I’m not. You see, at work, I have what people might call a “work mom.” I hear that term all of the time. I never thought I’d ever join that list of people that utilize this term. I happen to think it is a term of endearment and I’m excited about it.
Who is this person? Well, she’s one of the longest working employees on the floor. She is our unit clerk, and we basically would fall apart as a unit, without her. She does all of the tasks, we as nurses, realistically don’t have time for. If we have to do it, we do, but it turns into an inconvenient chore at that point. She really is a lifesaver. Because she’s been there for so long, she has developed friendships with people in high places. There’s nothing she can’t get done for us. It truly is a blessing…I don’t know how other floors manage.
She’s the type of worker that, when she’s not there, you notice. The void is so evident because numerous tasks don’t get done promptly, if at all. She goes above and beyond her job description, and I think she’s the greatest. It wasn’t always like that though. I used to be intimidated by her. She is a sassy, Puerto Rican-superwoman that knows more about this hospital than I will, probably ever. There’s a territorial instinct in her that can be felt when a newbie (hi, it’s me), joins the team. It’s nothing personal, I understand that now. If I were a part of something for over two decades, I might be protective as well. She’d watched this place grow, change, fall apart at times, and thrive. She played a huge role in all of that and it played a huge role in her life as well.
I didn’t realize her tactics until a month down the road when another new nurse joined. By then, that rough exterior I’d previously known, cracked and out came the soft, and motherly…well, I guess I can’t say her real name, so I’ll just say, work-mom. Her initial response to a new person is one that is cautious and unsure. It’s her way of protecting herself and the unit. I actually think it’s so sweet of her. I think the delivery could be softer at times, but I appreciate her wanting to maintain what our unit is, which is a family.
Once she let her guard down with me, she was so caring. She’s known for brewing pot after pot after pot of coffee. People will come from other units just to get a cup. Once it’s ready, she will make sure you know it’s done. “Coffee is ready.” “I made press.” “Did you get your coffee?” “Quiero cafe?” If it’s not coffee, it’s, “what’s for lunch?” Or, “I’m going to the cafeteria, you want some rice?” Sometimes, she surprises me with a roll, or coconut wafers, or seltzer. On days that are rough for me, she makes sure I’m okay, fed, and caffeinated. It’s not just me either. If she likes you, she’s got you.
Just the other day, she gifted me with a Martha Stewart inspired baking cookbook. She said, “Here Tori, you bake. My daughter didn’t want it.” She might not have put any sentiment in gifting me that, but I was so touched by it.
There’s something about feeling taken care of that provides a sense of comfort and peace. Being a nurse is a very stressful job. The environment isn’t always that much better than the workload, so having someone cater to the simplest of needs really makes a significant difference. She’s my work-mom. She’s the person that I go to if I have a non-nursing related question. She gives advice and tells stories that I find full of wisdom.
As she’s gotten to know me, I’ve also taken notes on a few things in regards to her. For instance, she loves talking about her grandsons. So, I make it a point to ask about them. She’s so proud to be a grandmother, and she lights up anytime she mentions them. I may not be bringing her coffee or bread, but I’m sure she had zero complaints about having a chance to talk about her babies. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to make someone feel taken care of. Ask about the little things in their life that make them ignite. It doesn’t always take things, but a genuine inquiry about their world.
I encourage you to reach out to someone. It could be your best friend or coworker. People you see all of the time like your roommate or significant other. Gift them with something. It doesn’t have to be big, but something that says, “hey, you’re taken care of.” Or, ask them about something you know they could talk for days about. It might unlock something in them too. A side of them that feels safe and affirmed when talking about what they’re passionate about. We all need that.
Here’s to my work-mom. You’re the best.