February 19, 2009 by skwishface
When The Husband was The Boyfriend and we had first moved in together, just a few months in we weathered our first sickness. As I would soon enough discover, he’s a hearty and healthy man, but about once a year some bug or another will just lay him out flat. Growing up, observing my father taught me that men who get sick suddenly turn into helpless whining lumps of irritable and demanding goo. I vividly recall being sent to the corner store at 10pm, on my bike, my twelve-year-old imagination conjuring all manner of axe murderers lurking behind every bush, to get the patient a damn popsicle. But the man I’d just moved in with was another creature altogether.
When his fever spiked, his personal bubble expanded in direct proportion. The more ill he got, the less he wanted me anywhere near him. Not out of some concern for spreading contagion, but because he was staunchly opposed to being nursed by me in any way. Our tiny apartment filled up with his injured-bear vibe to the point that if I were to actually oblige him, I would have to stand on the porch and wave wistful boxes of Kleenex through the window.
Now, it ‘s not like I was smothering him. I offered to pick up some soup from the store, maybe some meds, and keep him stocked with tissues. He was apparently living in dread of me becoming a hovering, fussing, nagging shrew of a nurse and was simply taking preventative action. Of all the baggage he came with thanks to his ex-wife, She Who Must Not Be Named (pictured here. I’m very mature), this was by far the strangest and least sensible.
I chalked this hands-offness of his up to a quirk, until I got sick. That’s when I realized that he and I both abide by the Treat Others Quite Literally As You Wish To Be Treated rule in relationships. He avoided me like my wicked cold was actually pustulent leperous sores. There was no comfort extended or assistance rendered. We had a very frank discussion at that point, and the great Nursing Compromise was reached. I agreed to keep my sickbed demands minimal if he agreed to let me fuss over him just a little bit. Ah, love!
Fast forward a few years. Now he is The Husband and we have The Boy. Being Mommy does not utterly consume me, but it is definitely shuffled in with my mental deck of cards. When The Boy gets sick, it is time to tend and care and provide hugs and tissues and baby Tylenol as needed. When The Boy shares his germs with his father, I just naturally extend the momminess of sick-care to cover them both. And the man lets me do it.
I don’t know if he’s finally gotten over whatever hang-up was turning him into a snarly standoffish beast at the first sign of sniffles, or if he sees that his kid has it pretty good with someone to mother him through the sickness and decided to jump in on that action, or if it’s actually something far more sinister and unhealthy like maybe he’s mentally moving me into his own mother’s role and now we have years of Madonna/Whore complex crap to wade through.
I should really stop analyzing it and just be content in the knowledge that the next time I get sick, somebody is totally gonna heat me up some soup.