— Why women should be taking notes, instead of keeping score
Now before I get ALL the negative comments, half from the men who feel insulted by the term “Man-Cold” and half from the women who feel justified in resenting their partners reaction to the common cold, let me be clear that it was my husband who first sent me the link to this video.
There’s a more recent video on this theme which has gone viral since this original, but this is the one that my husband sent me years ago because it’s been a joke between us long before we ever had kids. When my husband gets a cold he takes it seriously! He cancels all of his meetings, stays in bed and sleeps it off for at least a couple of days.
Which is what happened last week when the cold that I’d already been suffering with for ten days finally caught up with him. It’s the “Portland Crud” that’s afflicting about half of the population, according to my anecdotal observations. It starts out as a pretty intense sore throat, causes some aches and pains, but no fever, and then turns into lots of congestions and a hacking cough.
My husband had all of my same symptoms, but knocked it out in 48-72 hours because he didn’t get out bed for two days! Here I am almost a month later dealing with what sounds like black lung disease because I’m still doing ALL.OF.THE.THINGS.
Since this cold first snuck up on me I have done the following: prepped and cooked a Puerto Rican dinner for 14, hosted said dinner, finished all of my website edits, created a 30-minute FB Live event to launch the website, launched my website, completed two Childbirth Prep series, taught a full-day Childbirth Express class, a full-day Becoming Us class, and run an overnight retreat for a small non-profit Board that I’m the president of — all this in addition to my usual Momma duties of taking kids where they need to be, making dinner, and getting up at 6:30 am for a 7:00 am Boot Camp Class, yadda, yadda, yadda…
I’m not contagious and haven’t been for weeks — but I still have this lingering cough and I’m feeling about 70% of my usual. When I remarked that my husband’s cold seemed to go away so quickly (with a little bit of snark in my voice, if I’m being honest) he answered cheerily, “Well, that’s because I slept it off for a couple of days. Nothing like a lot of sleep to help you get rid of a cold!” And I answered (with a little bit MORE snark in my voice) “I wish I could just take a couple of days off and lie in bed to get rid of a cold. That sure sounds nice.”
He was, appropriately, offended. And asked, “Since when have I ever said you can’t have a day off? All you have to do is ask me for help and I’ll do it.”
I didn’t respond, but “Yeah, right!” is what I was thinking. Like I could just say, “Handle it” stay in bed, and not do ALL.OF.THE.THINGS.
Well, yesterday afternoon, I came home from the overnight retreat and wanted/needed to crawl straight into bed. My husband was already home because he didn’t know when I’d be making it back and was in full-on Dad mode. I’d started coughing again about fifteen minutes before I walked in the door and he asked, “You’re still feeling bad? You should just go to bed.”
But having been gone for 24 hours and feeling like I should be pulling my Momma weight and jump back in to ALL.OF.THE.THINGS, I started making dinner. He went and picked up the other two kids and some last-minute ingredients and I whipped up a Peruvian Potato Cheese Soup with Chicken. It was really good and I thought it might help me feel better.
After dinner, I took some cough syrup and could feel myself dragging. My husband, for probably the 10th time since my cold first kicked in, told me to “Go to bed.” I was making my way there when I noticed the leftover soup which needed to be put into the fridge.
I could have asked my husband to do it. I should have asked my husband to do it. But I didn’t.
I poured the remaining soup into a huge container (I had doubled the recipe) and then I got the great idea about taking the soup to my neighbor who’d lost her teenage son recently. This wave of sadness washed over me as I tried to shove the damn bowl into the overcrowded refrigerator (the same refrigerator that I had meant to clean out before I went on my overnight retreat). And in my impatient “just get to bed already I’m so tired state” the bowl slipped from my hands and came crashing to the floor!
The entire eight cups of soup splattered all over the kitchen. The angry screams and muffled expletives brought my husband into the room and I started crying — hard.
I was sick, and tired, and there’s been just a lot of hard “stuff” recently, so there was a lot of pent up emotion. I don’t cry too often, so my husband knew that I must be feeling really overwhelmed. He gave me a hug, stroked my hair and said it was okay, that he’d clean it all up and for the umpteenth time, asked me to “Please, go to bed.” I took a quick shower first (because I smelled a lot like Peruvian Potato Cheese Soup with Chicken!) and crawled into bed, trying to ignore the sounds of frustration I was hearing from the kitchen as my husband cleaned up my mess.
I’m not sure what time it was when he finally came to bed, but I sat and wrestled — STILL — with the idea of asking for help. I finally got up the nerve and asked quietly in the dark, “Can you take the kids in the morning so I can just sleep?” And, of course, he said “No problem.” And I slept in until 9:30 this morning. Which is three hours later than usual for me!
I woke up to find that he’d had to move the entire refrigerator out in order to mop up all the soup that had leaked underneath, he’d cleared off all the crap from the top of the fridge, found a place for the stuff we needed to keep and threw the rest of it into the trash. And he did all of this without complaint. Without even a hint of snark.
There are very few times that I fall apart and my husband has to take over. But the past eight weeks have been really challenging. The Portland Crud put me over the top. An extra three hours of sleep will probably not kick it to the curb, but I’m going to try and stay in bed today for as long as possible. In fact, it’s where I’m typing these words right now. I’m thinking that after I hit “publish” I’ll make some more tea, cuddle up with a box of tissues, watch a few episodes of This Is Us, and let my body do what it needs to heal itself: rest.
We might resent our partners reaction to the common cold. We might envy them the freedom to take off a couple of days and just be sick.
But we might want to take notes instead.
We might want to acknowledge that we’re running on empty and need a break. And instead of being snarky and feeling superior (which might have been me the past couple of weeks) we might need to ask our partners for what we need. We might need to ask for help.
Then you (read ME!) wouldn’t be crying over spilt milk — or soup, rather — and have to write an apology blogpost to your amazing and wonderful husband of 21 years. Thanks for taking care of me, Roberto. I love you and I’m lucky to have you.
But honey, you should know that I might be asking for a few more days off when I get sick in the future. Don’t hold it against me — I’m just following your great example.
Are you guilty of doing ALL.OF.THE.THINGS all of the time? Do you find it hard to ask for help? Would taking notes on the man-cold help you take better care of yourself and resent your partner a little less? I’d love to hear your thoughts — please leave me a comment!