My head is cloudy. My body aches. I’m a drippy, stuffy mess, but as mom, there’s no time for that, no time at all. Children must be corralled, lunches made, activities organized. So even though I’d like to lie down, close my eyes and nap, I’m moving and shaking, although the shaking might just be from the chills.
My husband comes downstairs, a look of exhaustion fixed on his face.
“What’s wrong?” I ask, busy doing what needs to be done.
“I can’t breathe,” he says. Can you hand me a tissue?” He looks at me pleadingly, like a little boy.
“Here,” I say annoyed and hand him the tissue box. Can’t I have this sick day? Can’t being sick even be about me? “Would you like a sticker now?” I ask sarcastically.
“Maybe some juice?” He makes puppy eyes, but at the moment, I just think he’s a dog.
I try to take a deep calming breath but my nose is stuffed, so I just swallow a little mucus and choke, but no one notices. If I wasn’t so weary, I might have something snarky to say. Instead I just hand him a cup of juice, but I do it with a scowl.
Because if he has a cold it seems like pneumonia.
If he’s nauseous, he’s hacking in the bathroom some inhuman sound reserved for dying animals.
If he’s under the weather, it’s a blizzard in Minnesota.
So while there’s definitely something wrong with my husband, mainly he just sucks at being sick. And if I’m not feeling well, his symptoms somehow worsen. Not that I think he does it consciously, but…
Me- I don’t feel so well.
Him – Me either.
Me – My head hurts.
Him – Mine too. And my throat.
Me – That’s weird.
Him – Yeah, I’m really achy.
Me – Really?
Him – Yeah, In fact, I think I need to lie down. Could you make me soup?”
Apparently, women aren’t allowed to be sick. Ever.
And it’s not just my husband. I’m prepared to throw all men under the bus here. According to women everywhere, men just can’t handle the pain. They wheeze and whine, they moan and complain, they need lollipops and cool compresses, while the wives nurse the baby while standing up, cooking dinner and overseeing homework, all with a 103 temperature, a broken leg and three broken arms. Yeah, three.
It makes me re-think some of the turns of phrase I randomly use without thinking, like “Take it like a man” or “Man up.”
How did these become part of the vernacular? I think ‘Take it like woman’ is more appropriate and from now on I’m telling my boys to ‘Mom up’, because if there’s something we know how to do, it’s suffer.
Don’t bother passing me the tissues, I’ll just get them myself.
Marital Disclaimer: Just to be clear and not because he’s reading this, my husband is very manly. He’s the coach of everything, he kills spiders, climbs ladders, fixes stuff and likes nothing more than chips on the couch and sports on the TV. In fact, my husband can beat up your husband, unless of course he’s sick.