Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sick Mommy, Lucky Mommy!

One of the trickiest things about being sick as a married person is trying to remember if you displayed enough empathy the last time your spouse was sick, to ensure that you will be brought cups of lemon water with honey, discharged from all parenting and domestic duties, and otherwise be encouraged to wallow in your misery, aided, abetted and generously supported by the other grownup in the house.

Unfortunately for Crabmommy, sympathy for grownups with flu is not part of my genetic makeup. When Crabhubby starts telling me about a scratchy throat or that "something's coming on" or that he doesn't feel "at my best," I can actually feel this little sympathy center deep within—the amygdala?—shrivel up into a raisin. Instead of immediately thinking of the spouse, I immediately think of myself. Because when the other parent is out of commission it is you who will have to take on the job of looking after both a real child and an infantilized, incapacitated adult.

And so the game goes. This weekend it was I who had to utter the lines that are meant to elicit sympathy from another. Lines like "my hands feel clammy" or "I think I'm getting a fever" or "my head hurts" or "I feel weak." These lines work in two ways, in the double-speak of marriage: they are as much intended to describe the symptoms as to warn the spouse that they need to get their act together because soon you will be totally out of commission. And Crabhubby has been appropriately sympathetic. He has duly taken on all household duties and left me in my bed with a copy of Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis, who is in my view the much funnier Amis. And I think it is on account of the Amis that I speaking rather formally and grandly to you here from my perch in my bed, laptop atop my knees.

So when I told Crabhubby that I felt weird and that I had a strange taste in my mouth, I was confident that he would react with the sought-after sympathy. Because I was in credit. I had points stored up. You see, while I do not have the genetic disposition to feel sorry for flu-stricken adults (I inherited an impatience for illness from my mother), I have learned the hard way that one must feign tremendous interest in and pay attention to the spousal illnesses, especially in winter, because you need to save up points so that you you, yourself, will receive similarly tender loving care when it's your turn. And usually it's your turn right after theirs.

Since Crabhubby had only last week been gently ministered to by me, and I had pretended extreme interest in the various subtleties of his virus, I have managed to earn myself the same loving care in return. The whole thing is a perfect metaphor for marriage. You give them what they want and they will do unto you the same.

I wasn't always so forward-thinking on this subject. I used to react snappishly when Crabhub came down with something and I would huff about like a martyr, making a big production out of mixing Theraflu. But I'm glad to say that I have learned from my mistakes. Which is why I am having such a nice time right now. With points in credit I'm actually loving being sick. My flu virus is just one of those where you feel weak and achy and have a cough. Nothing too revolting. And I get to lie in bed and watch the sun slide around the room. I get to read my book in the daytime and not feel guilty. The door is closed and small people are ushered gently but firmly away from Mommy's bedside.

I am helpless, unable to attend to any duties in the outside world, nor any duties within the home. I am encouraged by others to sleep and "take it easy." I have only one job: to convalesce and recharge my batteries. In other words, I'm on vacation.

Best I end it there, people. I need to conserve my strength. All this blogging has tired me out, set me back at least two days. Oh dear. Poor Crabhubby. Lucky me.

9 comments:

Charlotte said...

Isn't it tragic that when we have kids, we actually look forward to being sick?

Hope you get better, but not too soon.

Amanda Enclade said...

when I was a kid I would stretch out my sickness for at least a couple days.I loved staying home, watching tv, getting much needed attention from my mom, etc. now when I get sick I push the idea away thinking maybe I can fend it off with positive thinking because there is no way no hell anyone will be taking care of me!

KMed said...

Had minor surgery last summer, complete with the good drugs and mandatory bed rest. Heaven! Get better soonish.

Trin said...

The last time I "got sick" was about 15 years ago when I had a partial thyroidectomy. I was shoved out of hospital a day or so later and faced with a child with nits - which I had to attend to with my head feeling like it was about to fall off my neck. Needless to say, divorced soon after and "being sick" is not in my vocabulary, as per Amanda's comments.

crabmommy said...

Amanda, Trin:
I cannot even IMAGINE a healthy day of being a parent on the job without another in the house helping, let alone being a sick one. Indeed I complain and crab but Crabhubby is very helpful--even I cannot pretend otherwise...

crabmommy said...

even if he also drives me batty and vice bloody versa. and sometimes the marriageless life sounds like heaven on a stick.

foolery said...

I don't know what to wish you -- good health? Chronic wasting disease? Hysterical pregnancy?

Happy happy!

'cuz I'm the mommy, that's why! said...

I must work on my feigned sympathy to Hubby's ailments...

macy watching new moon said...

I found this quite entertaining. I love the insight on married life. LOL.