The Nursemaid’s Tale


(Originally posted on May 7, 2014)

As you might know from my previous post, my husband had back surgery last week. It was a pretty full on op and he’s likely to be off work for six weeks. When I say off work I mean, of course, AT HOME. Now, I love my husband. Very much. He’s a nice guy. We have stuff in common. He’s quite hot. I hated him being in pain and I hated him going in for his operation. I hated picking him up and seeing him so sore and unwell. But today, a week after the operation, he’s feeling a little better. He’s walking around a bit. Slowly. In a hobbly kind of way. I imagine he’s probably getting bored – he’s used to being busy – and because of this he’s started noticing things I haven’t done. Or suggesting lunch at noon when I usually eat around 1pm. He looked over my shoulder as I loaded the dishwasher. Silently judging the way I was throwing the mugs and pans in without regard for care and organisation. Luckily, I glared at him before he said anything so he hobbled off and then spent an hour trying to sort out the Skype connection with his brother who lives in Australia. He’s been meaning to do this for a long time, but it’s only now he’s at home that he can turn his mind to it. I had to listen to an hour of him shouting into the computer ‘Can you hear me now?’ Mumble, grumble, swearing at the computer. ‘What about NOW?’ More mumbling and grumbling. ‘Helloo? WHY CAN’T YOU HEAR ME?!’ Whilst this was going on, I started wondering who’s bright idea it was for married couples to actually live together. And then I did what all good, modern day frustrated people do and popped on to Twitter for a quick rant. The response was immediate and universal. When men are ill the worst person who could ever be asked to look after them is their wife or girlfriend. There’s something about your man hobbling and sniffing and moping about with that beaten puppy face that drives us all insane. To those of you who manage to nurse their man with care and sympathy, who manage not to feel grumpy as you pick all the snotty tissues up off the floor, who manage to resist the urge to close the door on them and forget about them, possibly chucking a sandwich in once a day, I salute you. You are better women than I.

I was thinking about this as I drank my tea in my study with the door locked, about why this wifely lack of patience appears to be a Universal Truth. I decided, as I often do, that it must be instinctive. Hot-wired. Written in to our very genes. Here’s my theory: a cavewoman needed a caveman to hunt for her, to protect her, to father her children, and to move the very heavy rock from the bottom of the cavegarden so she could plant some yams. As long as she had her cavefriends around her she’d be quite content for her cavehusband to turn up on a Friday with a large deer for tea, unblock the spring, have a bit of how’s-your-cavefather before moving the very heavy rock and heading off to hunt for another six days. But what good is a caveman lying on his back, moaning quietly, unable to defend, hunt, or do The Other because he has the sniffles or is recuperating from major back surgery? No good at all. And this is why we all feel a distinct lack of patience when it comes to sick husbands. So, hurry up, man! Get better! There’s a very heavy rock to move.

Hang on. He’s calling me. Back in a sec.

Tea. He’d like a cup of tea, you know, if it’s not too much trouble. And would I mind bringing it up to him. With a biscuit. Oh, and just to let me know, the dishwasher’s finished it’s cycle…

Five weeks left.


Amanda Jennings