Men Suck at Being Sick

My body aches. My head is cloudy. I'm a drippy, stuffy mess, but I'm the mom, so there's no time for that. No time at all. Children must be corralled, lunches made, activities organized. So even though I'd desperately like to lie down, close my eyes and nap, I'm moving and shaking, although the shaking might just be from the chills.

My husband trudges into the kitchen, a look of exhaustion fixed on his face.

"What's the matter?" I ask, busy doing what needs to be done.

"I can't breathe," he says. "Can you hand me a tissue?" He looks at me pleadingly, like a little boy.

"Yep," I say annoyed and hand him the tissue box. Can't I have this sick day? Can't being sick even be about me?

"Would you like a sticker now?" I ask sarcastically.

"I'll take some juice." He's making puppy eyes, but at the moment, I just think he's a dog.

I try to take a deep, calming breath, but my nose is stuffed, so I just swallow a little mucus and choke, but no one notices. If I wasn't so weary, I might have something really snarky to say. Instead, I just hand him a cup of juice, but I do it with a scowl.

Why is it that if he has a cold, it's pneumonia?

If he's nauseous, he's hacking in the bathroom, making some inhuman sound reserved for dying animals.

If he's under the weather, it's a blizzard in Minnesota.

So while there's definitely something wrong with my husband, mainly, he just sucks at being sick.

And maybe it's just me, but it seems if I'm not feeling well, his symptoms magically worsen. Not that I think he does it consciously, but...

Me: I don't feel so well.

Husband: Me either.

Me: My head hurts.

Husband: Mine too. And my throat.

Me: That's weird.

Husband: My back is also kind of stiff.

Me: Really?

Husband: Yeah, In fact, I'm achy all over. I think I need to lie down. Could you make me soup?

Apparently, women aren't allowed to be sick. Ever.

And I'm going on record to say that it's not just my husband. I'm prepared to throw a large majority of men under the bus here, although not Clint Eastwood or my grandfather. So there are of course exceptions.

But according to women everywhere, men just can't handle the pain. They wheeze and whine, they moan and complain, they need fretting over and fussing, while the wives nurse the baby while standing up, cooking dinner and overseeing homework, all with a 103 temperature, a broken leg and three broken arms. Yeah, three.

It makes me rethink some of the turns of phrase I randomly use without thinking like, "Take it like a man," or "man up." How did these become part of the vernacular? I think "Take it like woman" is more appropriate, and from now on I'm telling my boys to "Mom up," because if there's something we know how to do, it's suffer.

I'm getting a little sick of it.

Marital Disclaimer: Just to be clear and not because he's reading this, my husband is very manly. He's the coach of everything, he kills spiders, climbs ladders, fixes stuff and likes nothing more than chips on the couch and sports on the TV. In fact, my husband can beat up your husband... unless, of course, he's sick.

A revised version of this essay and others like it can be seen at