I don’t think I’ve ever met a woman who doesn’t roll her eyes and snort when their male partners get sick. A grown man*, when sick, immediately reverts into a whining infant, complete with a pathetic face and exaggerated coughs.
Or, if they are like my husband, they do all of those things plus avoid going to the doctor.
*My husband claims that I am a big ol’ baby when I’m sick, too. Personally, I don’t see it, but I can concede that I might not be an objective observer.*
I think I understand how this behavior develops, now that I’m a mother of sons. And yes, I realize I’m making a broad generalization over the entire male sex. Any mother has provided middle-of-the-night care to a sick child, despite often being sick herself, can appreciate how easy it is to form this particular stereotype about men.
How do manly-men grow up to be such babies when they are sick? My guess, based on my own short-term, non-scientific observations is that it’s Momma’s fault. Why? Because when the opportunity arises for me to get some snuggle-cuddle time, I take it. Nightmares, illness–whatever the reason, I take it. Those moments of quietly(!) holding my child and feeling his weight upon my breast as I provide love and comfort are becoming more rare with every passing year. Toddler and preschool-aged boys, unlike their own infant selves, have a very small capacity for sitting still and being smothered with mommy-kisses. At least mine do. I’m forever done with the constant holding/carrying of an infant–and most days I’m super happy about that fact. But there are those moments that I actually want to just lie there and snuggle, only to get 2 minutes of cuddle followed by 30 minutes of “wrestle”. Sorry, but y’all are getting to big to run at me, full-tilt, and jump. I have boobs, that shit hurts now.
So, here I am, a mother of sons who continue to grow up every single day. But when they have nightmares, I’m there–snuggling in the middle of the night for as long as my scared child needs comfort. Or when they are sick, I’m there–holding vomit bowls (or being woken from my own nap by a kid pucking in my lap–that is love), handing out ice chips and saltines, making sick beds in the living room, giving (and receiving) lots of hugs and cuddles.
What can I say? Them sitting still–the result of feeling like crap–is a rarity. So I lavish on the love and attention. I make hot apple cider to soothe sore throats. I let them use my special blanket. We all spend the day in pajamas; reading books, and watching too much TV.
Which made me realize that, damn, I am the reason for their future-selves lying in bed with a full case of Southern Vapors over a small head cold. I am the reason that their future partners will spend the day with rolled eyes and suppressed groans for the over-exaggeration of symptoms.