I have a cold. I’m not on my deathbed or anything, just feeling rotten and run down. But being sick isn’t my biggest problem right now. No, my problem is that Mr. Roller Coaster has a cold too. And when our husbands are sick, we wives not only temporarily lose the household help of another functioning adult, we also gain the demands of another child. (Yes, I just called my husband a child.)
I don’t think Mr. Roller Coaster and I have ever been under the weather at the same time. Or at least not since we’ve become parents. Typically it’s just one of us who crawls into bed with Vicks VapoRub and a good book while the healthy one takes over parenting duties. But what happens when both parents need to take a sick day?
I’ll tell you what happens. Mommies are still mommies and daddies fall asleep. Mommies don’t get sick days. Mommies still have to cook dinner, shuttle back and forth to baseball practice, pack school lunches, take the dog for a walk, and cough through bedtime stories before she can let Calgon take her away and Nyquil knock her out. And don’t even get me started on the bedroom the daddies are hiding out in where boxes of tissues explode on our side of the bed and the snoring forces us to retreat to the guest room.
Mr. Roller Coaster stayed home from work yesterday. I took the kids to school as I always do, leaving him to a restful, quiet, responsibility-free day. I stayed home from work today. And this morning, after I wished him a cough-free day and watched him drive away, I looked at my children who needed breakfast and clean clothes and realized I had to get myself dressed and take them to school. Did it ever occur to Mr. RC to take the kids to school? Did it occur to him to make them breakfast or remind them to brush their teeth? Why is it always assumed that I’ll handle the child care?
At first I thought my frustration was just the Mucinex talking. But after chatting with some of my female friends who have been married at least as long as I have, I discovered I’m not the only woman who’s experienced this feeling of one-sided parenting, that the “I’m sicker than you so you need to take care of everything while I rest” mentality is actually quite common. And I might as well get used to it because it doesn’t improve with age.
So what really happens when both adults in the family have a cold? I don’t know what happens in your house, but in mine, it’s a reminder that females are clearly the stronger sex.
Have you and your spouse ever been sick at the same time? How do you handle child care and other household responsibilities?