Thoughts on books, family, and life in one impressive package.

One of these days, I really need to either make a button or find someone to make a button for me for this series. It needs something…

Anyway, as I sit here, quarantined in my office for the sixth straight night thanks to a roaring case of bronchitis and severe laryngitis, I have to laugh at the differences between how men and women act as caretakers when their significant other is sick. I can say that I have firsthand knowledge of this because, as most of you know, my darling husband was sick for what felt like the entire month of November before he finally went to the doctor and was diagnosed with a sinus infection. One z-pack later, and he is feeling back to his old self. Meanwhile, I take good care of him and keep the household functioning smoothly while he was ill, and all I get to show for it is a hacking, persistent cough, no voice, and lungs that hurt to take any sort of deepish breath. Life is not fair.

What do I mean by these differences? Let me explain. When Jim was sick, all of those chores we normally divide and conquer, I took over and did myself. I cleaned the entire house. I went grocery shopping. I took the kids to their various activities. Not to mention, we had the new puppy who was dealing with her own bladder infection. So I bore the brunt of the nighttime potty breaks as well, all in an effort to allow Jim to rest and recover. While Jim does not want to be bothered when he is sick, I still made sure he had everything he needed/wanted and would periodically check on him to make sure he was okay. I didn’t always do this lovingly – after a month, this tends to wear on a person – but I did it because that is what we do in a relationship.

Now that I have been sick myself for a week, and much sicker than he ever was (not that I’m keeping track or anything), I have to notice that quid pro quo is not exactly happening in my house. I’m still doing laundry. I went grocery shopping over the weekend. I’ve been having to get most of my own food and take care of myself. Jim even wanted to know what I was planning to cook for dinner earlier this week. Even though I stayed home almost every day this week, I still had to drag my codeine-stupored body out of bed to make sure Holly caught the school bus. My house never got 100 percent clean this weekend, and if I didn’t wander out of my quarantine every once in a while, I would never see my husband. See what I mean?

Did I mention the guilt? I have a boss who has called me every single day I was out of the office, asking me to “be heroic” and get something done that absolutely had to get out the door that day. My kids are asking me to get better soon. I see the state of my bathrooms and shudder. Let’s face it – I feel guilty that I am sick. I hate feeling this helpless. While the much-needed sleep is nice, I wish I could function a little bit better than I am now. Jim never felt like this. He was sick, and he didn’t care if the world stopped or not. His boss told him to take as much time as he needed to get better. The kids were upset he was sick, but it didn’t affect them as much as my illness is. There was no guilt for him.

I know this is not unique to just me. When I talk to coworkers and girlfriends, they all share similar stories. Why is this? If we cannot get equality in our own houses, how are we ever supposed to get equality in the workplace? What is it about men versus women when it comes to being a caretaker? I love my husband and know that he means well, but apparently “in sickness and in health” means two different things to each of us.

Your turn to dish – am I alone here? Why do you think the two sexes act so differently when it come to taking care of others? Better yet, any helpful hints on improving the situation?


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