The Other Half is not well. Several weeks ago, his jaw began to ache. We are not registered with a dentist so we have had to learn our way around the local emergency dental service process. He has now had several appointments, antibiotics, anaesthesia, vast amounts of painkillers, one extraction and several temporary fillings. He's due to have another two extractions in a couple of weeks' time.
Due to pain and occasionally having no feeling in his face, food has been a bit of an issue. So I have been keeping a constant stock of bananas, Angel Delight, bread and peanut butter. I try to keep the Little Monster reasonably quiet and well behaved - screaming toddlers seem to increase the pain caused by toothache by a substantial degree. I fetch cups of tea, easy to chew snacks and various medication.
I barely realise I'm doing any of this until the Other Half thanks me for looking after him. Then I realise that I have taken on the role that many wives and mothers take on in times of sickness. The caring role. I believe about a month ago, the Little Monster, the Other Half and myself were all very ill. Some kind of virus that caused severe vomiting. I practically ignored my symptoms and instead looked after the other two. The Other Half's illness came on a few days after ours. Don't mistake me, he brought glasses of water and words of sympathy. He clearly cared. But somehow it isn't the same. Nobody told me I shouldn't spend a day on the sofa. I didn't even consciously decide that I should get on with my normal routine. I just did it.
This must be something to do with becoming a mum. Even when pregnant, housework or any obligation would be entirely forgotten if I felt ill. I have spent days under a duvet on a sofa, watching the entire BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. During my first Open University course, An Introduction to Health and Social Care, I studied the nature of the "sick role". The idea that when ill you take on certain obligations, such as missing going out with friends, and get preferential treatment, such as being brought bowls of jelly (a favourite of the ill), in return. But, for some reason, becoming a mum has caused me to almost entirely forgo the sick role. I'm not even sure why. Perhaps when the Little Monster was a young baby, laying about wouldn't really have been an option. But I'm sure that these days she'd happily accept a day spent watching films, under a blanket on the sofa with Mummy.
I am not a fan of housework. I only don my rubber gloves when its entirely necessary. It's an obligation, something I get on with. More effort is caused by not doing it than by doing it. If I get the laundry done every day then we don't run out of clean clothes. If I get the washing up done every evening, there'll be plates and bowls and cutlery ready for the next morning.
Part of these obligations are looking after my family. I know its an old fashioned point of view but then, anyone who reads this blog knows I'm quite an old fashioned sort of person. A friend recently told me that I seem to have been born in the wrong time. I have been told time and time again that I look like a pre-Raphaelite or that I wouldn't look out of place in a Jane Austen adaptation. I find it very flattering. So while it seems to be quite out of date to do anything unnecessary to care for one's family, especially one's husband, I will always do it. Unless he really annoys me. Then he can get his own tea and jelly.