My husband has a cold. (Insert sympathetic groan here.) He is home from work today…resting. My husband’s occasional “sick days” used to bother me greatly. Since my children were born, I have been gifted one sick day, a day when I was allowed to do nothing other than be sick. One. Even after two surgeries, I was up and going the very next day. In my 10.5 years in my current position, I’ve come to realize that moms don’t get sick days. It’s just the way it works.
In all fairness to Steve, he rarely gets sick so he rarely takes sick days. Still, I bet he’s stayed home maybe 5-6 days in the past 10 years which, any way you slice it, is a better sick leave policy than I have. Many of those days when he’s been home sick, I too have had the cold or flu or what have you. But, I’m the mom and the mom has Mom Duty. My kids, although somewhat sympathetic when I don’t feel well, are tough bosses. They expect me to carry on. If they need to be at Chuck E. Cheese’s for a school fundraiser, I’m required to put on my chauffeur’s cap, drive them there, pay for their meal, and then sit patiently for two hours in my misery while they run around have a grand old time. I’m not even supposed to curse them for the illness they gave me. Sigh.
I’ve been working to become more zen about the whole cold/sick day thing, but it’s been a long haul. I am not a highly sympathetic person. I come by this naturally. Growing up, when I was sick my mom would simply utter a dismissive “This too shall pass” and go back to her ironing. Don’t get me wrong. When I’m sick, I’m a big whiner. Huge. I give 15 minute updates on my condition. I’m sure it’s annoying. But I take loads of over-the-counter medicine and I carry on like the postal service on a snowy, blustery day. I don’t get a sick day to rest in solitary confinement and not bother anyone. I figure that if I have to keep going, I will. You’re going to hear about it, though.
Still, I ponder the Man Cold. Why is it that a cold shuts my husband down but I continue on? This morning, I went in search for an answer to that question. I found this article on WebMD that makes a lot of sense. Basically, the article claims that although there is no proof that for men and women cold symptoms are any different, our thresholds for perceiving and dealing with them are. Women are expected to soldier on, so we do. Men, whom society requires to be strong, take this temporary weakness more personally and use it as an excuse to be babied and taken care of. I guess I can understand that, at least on an intellectual level.
A couple weeks ago when the kids and I had the flu, however, I kept on with our normal routine. I popped Advil and Sudafed like Pez and cooked dinner, did laundry, and even walked the dog beast. So, it’s hard to buy into Steve’s misery when I don’t truly get to rest when I’m feeling poorly. I’m working on it, though. It’s going to take some time. Zen is a process. I am trying to look at the big picture. I mean, I did get to go skiing yesterday while Steve was at work, and he didn’t give me a hard time about that. So, maybe I can give him a break and let him loll about in bed today without making fun of him. Maybe. I reserve the right to post this semi-unflattering photo of him “resting,” though. If I have to wait on him today, the least he can do is gratefully supply me with blog material.