My husband and I, for our entire marriage, have worked different shifts. I work a traditional Monday through Friday, whereas he works Friday through Monday. This keeps us from needing fulltime daycare for our boys, but it means there are only three evenings a week we’re both home and awake. In general, this works well for our family.
Friday night, however, Husband comes home from work with some kind of stomach illness. The littler boys are already in bed, so we don’t have to worry about them getting exposed, which is nice. Saturday morning, Husband attempts to go in to work, but returns before the rest of the house has even awoken. He’s still sick to his stomach, and now he feels feverish. He stays locked in the bedroom, sleeping most of the day, protecting our boys from the illness. I grab wonton soup from the Chinese place (trust me, it’s perfect for a recovering stomach), ginger ale from the grocery store, I check on him throughout the day and generally let him rest. When he emerges, feeling better, I wash the sheets.
The following is not a criticism of my husband. It is a general vent about the way the world works.
I wake up in the middle of the night Saturday with the stomach illness. Shortly after the first bout, Little Brother needs to nurse. All in all, I get a few hours of interrupted sleep that night. Sunday morning, Husband wakes up, starts getting ready for work, asks in passing how I am. I tell him I’ve caught his illness. He says something like, “Hope you feel better,” then leaves for work. I have promised the boys donuts, so we go to the donut shop, upset tummy and all. The boys are exposed to all my germs, but what choice do I have? I nurse, play with the toddler, and talk to the teenager, all on very little sleep and feeling like hammered crap. No one runs to the store for me, no one brings me comfort food, and no one lets me sleep all day, although, thankfully, Middle Brother and Little Brother napped at the same time, allowing me a couple hours. Thanks to the nap, however, Middle Brother does not want to sleep at bedtime, and I end up falling in to bed not long before Husband gets home from work. He wakes me to ask what there is to eat.
From talking to married girlfriends, I know this is not at all uncommon. As women, we are much more likely to be the caretakers of our families, which leaves no one to take care of us when we need it. So, it is what it is. But in my next life, I’m definitely coming back as a dad.