Female conversation has proven that most men behave like babies when they're sick. They expect to be doted upon and nurtured. They shed the titles of husband and father. They think nothing of lying in bed until they feel better. I used to be annoyed by this. But then one day while I was taking care of my own sick little boy it hit me: Women, we are our own worst enemies.
Gabe had a bad case of the flu. Between feverish naps, he asked for chocolate milk. Before I could answer, he rose sluggishly from the couch and started toward the refrigerator.
"Where are you going, honey?" I asked.
"I'm getting the milk and the chocolate for you," he volunteered. Any other day this would have been normal. It's what we did: He got the ingredients. I made the chocolate milk. He put away the ingredients.
And yet I heard myself say, "Sweetie...don't get up. I'll get you your milk. You feel too yucky today."
As the words came out of my mouth, I knew I was creating a monster. But every maternal instinct I possessed would not allow him to help that day. I temporarily erased all expectations for my son because he was sick.
Gabe was seven at the time. His sense of responsibility, despite being ill, was still there. But I put a dent in it that day, and have continued to erode it further every day he's spent sick since.
So who can blame a man that spent every cold and flu season until he was eighteen being spoiled by his mommy? I am grooming Gabriel to drive his wife crazy because it's impossible for me not to take care of him when he's sick. Can I make up for it by teaching him to make his bed in the morning? If not, I apologize to the future Mrs. Gabriel Myers. Because it feels too good to be needed by my little boy every now and again.
So...The next time I'm ready to kill Craig when he complains about a sniffle in baby-talk, I will refer to this blog. I will try to be sympathetic when he comes home from work and tells me he feels like crap, even though he's managed to interact with clients all day. I will try to be more patient with him and keep the kids out of his hair while he rests. I will remind myself that his mother's love conditioned him to behave this way. I will remember that it's not really his fault.
The next time he's sick...I'm handing him the phone and telling him to call his mom.
And the next time I'm sick...I think I'll call mine, too.