I had to go in late to work a few days this week (and get off early, when I could) when my wife took ill. Not anything serious -- a sinus infection in the chest and conjunctivitis in both eyes -- but it kept her off her feet, out of the driver's seat, and unable to perform her core duties at this juncture in her life: taking care of our three young daughters.
I slowly came to a realization about why I got an odd look from co-workers when I mentioned my wife's illness as the cause of my tardiness. In their minds, a sick wife does what a sick husband would do: she takes a day off of work to get well. The kids would do their usual thing, which is apparently (in today's world) school or day care or hanging with the au pair. My wife and I don't have that sort of thing going.
As faithful readers of Toner Mishap know, my wife is a rabbi. Very faithful readers will know she is not currently a full-time rabbi for anyone but me and our three girls; she is committed full-time to their well-being, and mine as well. So when she gets sick, the kids are out of luck -- the baby has no one to change her diapers, the middle child has no one to play with or fix her lunch, and the oldest is in a carpool that doesn't go anywhere without my wife. WIth her unable to focus her bleary reddened eyes, and unable to take a breath without coughing like a seasoned smoker of forty years, it fell to me to pick up the slack.
So it's not that my wife's illness makes her incapable of self-care -- it's that the three youngsters who rely on her every minute of every day would not have their needs met... and so I did what I could to fill her shoes, which is why I spent a lot of time this week working at home late at night and into the wee hours of the morning.
That said, at Mothers' Day I can't easily pay tribute to my lovely, talented, intelligent, ordained, and nurturing wife (but I will try). She is my partner and my love, my high school girlfriend, my fellow world traveler, my soul mate, my beshert, and my everything. And six years ago (plus a month or so) we became parents for the first time, and then a second and a third in the years that followed.
There is no one better at what she does, and no one I would rather spend the rest of my life with... she is the clichéd glue which holds our family together, and I wish her the happiest of Mothers' Days.