Early in our marriage, I recall having a “conversation” (ok, it was an argument) with my husband about what we would each do if the other was sick. I know it seems silly, but hear me out. He was upset that if he was sick and had to stay home, that I was hesitant to take time off to be home and take care of him. He assured me that if I had to stay home and was really sick, that he would certainly take time off to take care of me. He was upset that I would not offer him the same assurance. “But I’m a teacher!” I said. “Do you know what it takes to take a day off when you’re a teacher?!” I explained the complication of having to prepare lesson plans ahead of time, enter the absence in our online system, get the absence approved, procure a substitute teacher, and if a substitute did not sign up for the job, then having to split up my students among other colleagues’ classrooms and have a “portable” assignment. It is always more of a hassle than it is worth (which is why, by the way, many teachers will go to work while sick!). As I explained the complications of taking time off, he would not hear of it. He wanted the assurance that I would take care of him when he was sick. My compromising by promising to check on him during my breaks and maybe even come home during my planning time were to no avail. We finally had to agree to disagree.
Fast forward . . .
The other day was a teacher work day and there were no students at school. However, I had piles of papers to grade, things to file, purchase orders to prepare, lesson plans to write, music to sort, a department lunch, and a few other errands to run. I was reveling in the luxury of having a day without students to get all of those things done. I was just getting ready to leave home in the morning, planning to stop and pick up a favorite cup of coffee on the way to work, when the text came. “Love, I have a fever.” (Cue the “dun, dun, DUN!”) I stared at my phone, paralyzed. It was from my husband.
Decisions, decisions . . .
My mind immediately went back to that conversation so long ago that I described earlier. Would I really be able to go on with all of the things I needed to do today knowing that he was not feeling well? You guessed it. Immediately my plans changed. I contacted my boss, explained the situation, and made arrangements to work from home. I convinced my husband to come home from work, I met him at the doctor’s office, then sent him home and went to get his prescriptions, I picked up lunch for him, and then made sure he was tucked under warm blankets with a cold washcloth on his forehead (it’s his comfort thing). Then I worked in our home office while he slept, just in case he needed me. He ended up having the flu.
Paradigm shift . . .
Believe me, I surprised myself. Would I have done that had I had students to teach that day? I’m not sure of the answer to that at this moment. But what I do know is this: The people that are closest to us are the most important, and often the most neglected. We tend to feel like others can’t do without us, while ignoring the ones who really don’t want to do with out us. Could I have gotten all of that work done in my office that day? Yes. Was it absolutely necessary to get all of it done that day? No. Was it worth only getting what I could get done from home to be able to help the person closest to me? Absolutely. In the end, which one is going to matter the most? I’ll let you decide for yourself.