I’ve written before about the importance of staying manly as a SAHD. It can be tough. If you’re constantly worried about the importance of being perceived as a manly man, or keeping your platinum status on your man-card, then SAHDing probably isn’t for you. Having said that, cashing in a few man-points in some areas as a SAHD has allowed me to develop and evolve some of the more sought after mum-traits in others, resulting in me becoming some sort of hybrid super-parent. Manly enough to grow a beard and operate a cordless drill, and mumly enough to be able to pull off a French plait and remember which day is ‘wear your pjs to school day’.
Perhaps the most valuable mum-trait that I seem to have developed, other than being able to find my son’s lost sock when no one else can, is what I have called Mummunity.
If it were an actual term rather than a word that I just made up, modern science would most likely identify mummunity as that enzyme / gene / antibody that all mothers carry as part of their genetic makeup, and which gives them immunity to whatever bugs and illnesses are infecting the rest of the family. But, I’m living proof that it’s not a mum thing. It’s a primary carer thing, and after the week I’ve had, I know with absolute certainty that I have it.
Just when I thought that we’d seen the end of winter, and the endless fucking bugs and illnesses that come with it, a horrific flu virus has torn through our house this week with the subtlety and devastation of Cyclone Tracy. First to go was Focker #2 (thanks very much daycare). She spent the whole of Sunday (Fathers Day) being ridiculously miserable, and was in bed asleep before 6pm. After waking every 45 minutes throughout the night, she surfaced on Monday looking like Lindsay Lohan on a come-down. Pale skinned, with red rimmed eyes, clammy sweat on her little forehead, and a nose that constantly dripped and oozed all sorts of green delights. After a lethargic day, we endured another virtually sleepless night on Monday night as she continued with the ‘fall asleep – get hot – get cold – cough up a lung – wake up crying’ routine that she’d prototyped the night before.
With both Mrs D-E-D and I having unavoidable and highly important commitments on Tuesday, and no other viable childcare options, we became those parents. The ones that pump their child full of paracetamol, dump him/her at daycare, and disappear with a screeching of tires and a cloud of blue smoke before anyone notices the mucky eye and the two inches of bright green snot on the child’s upper lip. My initial guilt at dropping my infectious daughter at daycare was short lived once I remembered where the filthy virus had come from in the first place. Swings and roundabouts right?
Miraculously, Focker #2 managed to somehow keep her shit together for her few hours at daycare and I naively thought we might be through the worst of it. By Tuesday night however Mrs D-E-D had announced that she too was feeling a bit off colour. What started as a headache and a sneezing attack at 6pm, was by 9pm a full blown case of sweating and shivering in the foetal position. I knew it was serious when she started making noises about having to take a day off work the following day. Something that until that moment, had never happened in the history of our thirteen year relationship.
Tuesday night was rough. Mrs D-E-D was in no fit state to do anything other than sweat-shiver, and Focker #2 continued to hone her 45 minute sleep / cry cycle throughout the night. I took one for the team and spent the night in Focker #2’s bed with her. Shushing, patting, cuddling, and praying for my own speedy death.
Wednesday morning Mrs D-E-D was true to her word and didn’t surface for work. Focker #1, who up until this point had remained at arms length from the carnage, surfaced, but looked like he’d already been dead for several days. Pale, gaunt, and with a wild look in his weepy red eyes, he burst into tears when I asked him if he wanted a piece of toast. Although improving, Focker #2 was also still very fragile – leaving yours truly as the last one standing. It was solely up to me to step up. To hold the fort. To care for my family, and make sure that everyone had adequate paracetamol, Netflix and cheese toasties to get them through this difficult time.
48 hours later, the illness still rages on in our house, with little sign of abating. The kids are still miserable, and Mrs D-E-D, still in her PJs, is only just well enough to turn on her laptop and re-enter the corporate world from the comfort of the couch. Despite the carnage, other than feeling a bit weary (ok – deliriously weary), touch wood, I seem to have escaped its fury. Given that I’ve been living, sleeping, and breathing in the same infected environs as the rest of my family, the only possible explanation for my enduring health is that I have done the impossible. I’ve developed mummunity.
Contrary to popular belief, I now know with certainty that mummunity isn’t gender specific. Rather than residing in the genetic makeup of the fairer sex, it is a trait that develops and evolves to inhabit the primary domestic caregiver – male or female. Mummunity is born out of necessity. The necessity to ensure that your family is cared for in their hours of need. It not only keeps us primary carers healthy and upright when others are falling down, but it also gives us a metaphoric injection of awesomeness that provides super-parent strength and endurance when it’s needed most. I’d gladly cash in a few measly man points for that any day of the week.