Monday, 10 October 2011

Nursing Like a Boss

There are four people in my family. Right now, one of them had a little problem with mobility and is on crutches. It happens to be the little one, my brother. Putting aside the technicalities of his injury and the events leading up to his rather uncomfortable predicament, I noticed myself doing something I didn't think I would. I found myself falling perfectly into roles defined for a woman; without ever knowing it.

When someone in the family falls ill, everyone pitches in. There are so many things to be done that one person doing all of it alone is worthy of a hundred gold medals. How is all this work divided among the members of the family? In mine it followed the traditional setup. Dad would pay the bills and talk to the doctors. He would give the green light on what tests to take, which room to book, when the car would come to pick us up and all that jazz. Mom would stay overnight at the hospital, make dinner, buy provisions, give hugs and apple juice. Suprisingly, I fell into my stereotype too. I was doing odd errands, traversing elevators and stairs to fetch some dressing from the pharmacy or chicken rolls from the cafe or drive around when needed. When Ma was busy, I was feeding, heating up dinner, dressing, swabbing or giving medicines.

In retrospect, I think of the ease with which I slipped into those (relatively) feminine roles and wonder whether those roles are taken up because we have a sort of comparative advantage in them. Like dads are just better at paying bills and being tough and moms are just so wonderful when they make home-food and touch you with their gentle yet weather-worn hands and sisters just sit next to you and talk endlessly so you don't feel lonely.

The thought is reinforced with little tidbits of conversation floating around the house

Baby brother:"I wouldn't have been able to move my leg if Pa hadn't been tough on me during physiotherapy"
Ma:"If I was the one in charge of physio, I'd have failed miserably because I'd have stopped every time he so much as winced!"

Baby Brother:"Mari let Ma do all the wound dressing, she's more gentle."

Baby Brother:"Can Mari stay at home for a few more days? I need her around for support."

As an aside, that last one had me sold. That kid had never said anything about needing me his whole life and even though he probably meant support while he walks to the other room, I'd like to believe it was that other, more important kind of support.

I know every family is different, in that each member has special strengths and in a crisis they play on those strengths. Maybe that  is all I witnessed at home this week. But maybe, like I said, women are just more into that whole nurturing business and men are more of that protective sort.

Then again, maybe my family is more stereotypical than we'd like to admit.

I have been rambling, haven't I?

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