Disturb me with all your cares and your worries
On the days when you feel spent
Why let your shoulders bend underneath this burden
When my back is sturdy and strong? Trouble me.”
My husband, Arun, played this 10,000 Maniacs song for me a few months ago. We had just learned that I had a brain tumor and would need surgery in a few days to remove it. There was so much to do and it all happened so fast I didn’t even have time to think about that fact that in less than one week my skull would be sawed open and a part of my brain--unwanted though it was--would be sliced off.
Before I got the news about the tumor, I had been planning our move to another state, and now had to dedicate time postponing the move, rescheduling movers and subletters, changing school start dates and having to take an extended leave from my demanding job. Most of all, I was worried about my boys.
Arun is a fantastic, totally hands-on dad. Up until then, we would both get the kids ready in the morning and he would take them to school. But he was usually never home before the kids were in bed, so I was responsible for the evenings – school pickups, dinners, baths, books, cuddles, bedtime and getting ready for the next day. As most moms with two boys who are 18 months apart will tell you, caring for them keeps you on your toes, but I loved it. I loved the routine and stability, the time I had alone with them and feeling proud that I could do it all. I never really needed to trouble anyone with my cares or worries or burdens because I didn’t have to.
Like most moms, I have a certain way of doing things (the right way!) and I was worried about making sure everything would stay the same for my boys. I didn’t want my surgery or recovery to make life difficult for them or for them to feel scared or unstable. As a mom, one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do was accept that I wouldn’t be able to take care of my boys.
That’s when Arun played this song for me. After shedding many tears, I knew that, of course, it would be okay. Things would be different for a while, but I could let it all go and just focus on myself and my recovery. His back was sturdy and strong and I could trouble him. My family and friends would take care of my worries because I could trouble them.
Before the surgery I was anxious about how my boys would react to my partially shaved head and staples in my scalp. We had explained the surgery as well as we could to a 3- and 4-year old. “Mama has a boo boo in her brain and the doctor has to take it out.” Still, we didn’t know what I would look like after the surgery. When I looked at my reflection in recovery, it was a little jarring for me and I didn’t want them to be frightened. I was discharged from the hospital and settling in at home when I heard the usual chaos that follows upon their arrival. They knew I would be at home and came into the bedroom. I was wearing the standard blue hospital cap which covered my hair and staples. They asked right away to see my boo-boo and I hesitated, but slowly took off my cap and let them see everything. They weren’t scared one bit. My 4-year old asked, in typical 4-year old fashion, if he could bonk my head. My little guy just wanted to wear the blue cap. They both gave me a gentle hug and kiss. Kids really are amazing. They didn’t care what I looked like. They just wanted their mama.
The days and weeks that followed were tough. I had to lean on my husband, children, family and friends and let them take care of me. But I remembered the words from the song. I learned to let go and trouble them.