Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sick, Like a Man

I know it’s a provocative title - so bear with me a second.

It was years ago, but I remember exactly what my girlfriend said when she called one afternoon.  “Guess what?  I got to be sick today.  Like a man.”  I cracked up.  I knew exactly what she meant.

I bet you do too, seasoned wives and longtime girlfriends.

You see my pal’s husband had been home on an extended leave from his job.  (I don’t want to give away his identity, so let’s call, him - Brian.)  He’d gotten to see what life is really like managing the kids 24/7.  So, when my typically-whirling-dervish-friend got bitten by a flu-bug, “Brian” took the kids to school while she, for once, got to stay in bed.  For the whole day.  Stop the presses!

That’s right, ladies.  She got to be sick … like a man.  Meaning instead of having to “cowgirl” up to carpool and kitchen duties, the resident caregiver got some care.  I was jealous.  I don’t know if I’d ever taken a sick day once the kids arrived on the scene. Those aren’t included in mommy-contracts! 

That day, “Brian” took girlfriend’s temperature, delivered soup and meds, picked up the house, curried the kids from school, managed homework, conjured up dinner and tucked everyone in bed.  All while she made friends with a chunky comforter and the remote.  She read; she slept; she furtively called me to boast.

I’m thinking about all of this because hubby’s been in bed today and while I wouldn’t trade places with him, it’s a familiar scene.  After the bug arrived, hubby begged off work and retreated to bed. I’ve kept the noise at a minimum, written copy for my clients, wrangled the kids and crept up to ensure he’s had a steady supply of water and meds.  I’ve offered empathetic smiles and listened to his descriptions of what had most recently exited his body.  Ewww; I know. 

I don’t mind taking care of him – really … I don’t.  That’s what marriage is all about – and I really don’t want to sound like a martyr.  I consider myself to be a (mostly) good Christian gal, and I know serving others is one way we connect with God. 

But OK - I admit it.  I can’t help but feel a teeny-weeny bit of resentment.  Because when I’m sick, things look a little different.   I want someone to take care of me, too.  Usually I drag myself out of bed and stumble through the round.  Kind of seems to me that when guys get sick, they have no trouble ditching work, closing the door and waiting for the nursing services to arrive..  Why can’t I do the same?

Part of my angst (over nothing in the scheme of things, I know!!) is this - I want my man to volunteer.  I want him to admonish me to stay in bed while he relieves me from some part of my responsibilities.  Is that so bad?  I’m not asking for much.  A bowl of soup - an offer to make breakfast for the kids or run to the store for ginger-ale.  Because it might be my fault; but its hard form me to let go and stay in bed when I've got three bear cubs in need of porridge.

So what’s your take?  Should we take a cue from the guys we love and simply stay in bed and let the chips fall?   Should we ask for help instead of silently steaming while we juggle trips to the bathroom while changing diapers?  Or should we simply call our girlfriends to the rescue?

I don’t know the answer - but I’ve got to run.  Hubby needs some Ibuprofen!