Does a SAHM’s sickness matter more than the earning partner’s?

That is the question, isn’t it? It is right up there alongside questions like, does it matter who makes more money?


On Monday night, TJ came down with a fever that was worse enough for me to keep him away from school on Tuesday. He even missed Picture Day! We stayed home all day. We also stayed home on Wednesday. As if one person coughing, sneezing, running a busy nose, and inevitably spreading his germs all over his toys isn’t enough, as a direct consequence of one sick child, my other child is now sick. She is a baby.

To make matters worse, I am showing the same symptoms. I feel miserable. I am a mom.

I don’t get to take the day off.

Although Aaron is perfectly capable of doing everything I do except for breastfeeding, let me just humor myself by making a list of some of the things that I do, that if I don’t do, he would have to take days off, to get done all by himself. In no particular order,

– Drop TJ to school
– Put Baby E down for her naps
– Change her, clothe her, bathe her, feed her
– Pick TJ up from school
– Shop for groceries, gas, and other things
– Cook
– Do kids’ laundry
– Clean up after cooking
– Entertain/Creatively engage TJ in the morning and after he wakes up from his nap
– Take TJ (and by default, E) to parks and playgrounds, the museum, or zoo
-OR let him play independently but be there should he need us
– Put him down for a nap
– Give TJ snacks in the morning and after he wakes up from his naps
– Make TJ lunch
– Return order to our chaotic living room after the kids go to sleep
– Heat up and serve dinner
– Clean up after dinner
– Make baby food, store in the right containers, and freeze
– Play with Baby E during her wakeful hours which are getting longer and longer- Take the kids to Music Together
– Take the kids to story times at one of our local libraries

In making my list, I just realized that there is nothing I do that cannot also be done by someone paid to do them. Sure I bring in the little bit of extra being the kids’ mother and all. Still, if desperate times were the call of the hour or week, someone could very well be paid to do all that I did. So much for my grandiose notions of being indispensable!

So now, how about if Aaron falls ill and I have to do everything he does at home? Here are some of the things he does:

– Wake up with TJ
– Get him dressed and ready for the day
– Make him/us breakfast and feed it to him if it’s oatmeal
– Play with TJ
– Feed him dinner
– Bathe him
– Read to him and put him to bed

…but this is not about who does what. It is about the extent to which the carefully crafted order and rhythm of our family will be disrupted depending on which one of us gets sick.

If I get sick, in the worst case scenario where I can’t do anything, Aaron could easily hire help and get things done. As for breastfeeding, E will simply have to get used to formula.

If Aaron gets sick, who’s going to bring home the bacon? Figuratively, of course, because I am the one who brings home the bacon, literally.

So whose illness is more important? Better still, whose illness is the least inconvenient one for the rest of the family?

Drum roll please….and the correct answer is…..

Neither of ours!!!!

We work as a team and neither of should fall sick. Ever. Not for as long as we have little kids depending on us for everything.

So, what is the point of making you read over 800 words? First of all, this is one of the shortest posts I’ve written so aren’t you happy about that? Secondly, hate on me only if you’ve never felt the way I have above.

Here I was thinking (when I started writing this post) how important my falling sick was to my little family unit, how the smooth functioning of my household was balanced on my delicate shoulders, how I was instrumental to the problem-free living of our everyday…and what do I find out…that in the end, my work is entirely dispensable.

Maybe I am not just a housewife. Maybe my contributions do not make any tangible sense now. Maybe the outcomes of my sacrifices will only be evident once the kids are older. Maybe. Maybe.

Or maybe, just maybe, I am just a housewife.

(I write this as my inner feminist decides to walk out on me, temporarily, slamming the door in my face.)


Does your household come apart when you get sick? If not, how do you make things work for you?ย 


Published by Suchitra

I am a former Communication Studies professor turned stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) to two multiracial kids. I write about my adventures in parenting and living a multicultural life with my family. Blogger at: Follow me: @thephdmama

18 thoughts on “Does a SAHM’s sickness matter more than the earning partner’s?

    1. Absolutely right! Don’t you just feel like sometimes you are simply oscillating between what you think you should do/say and what you actually do/say? Life, eh!? ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for visiting and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. It’s hard if either parent gets sick, that’s for sure! The few times I’ve been really ill and had to stay home with my daughter, I found it really, really hard that I could’t just curl up under the duvet and watch TV. I still had to be a parent – entertain her, feed her, comfort her – and that was difficult when I just wanted to sleep. #FamilyFun


  2. Hehe – I actually hate all those memes about how many millions of jobs a mum does and how it’s the most important job ever. As a stay at home mum I know it’s important but really there are lots of harder jobs and I don’t think we do ourselves any favours by saying otherwise. Long winded way of saying I was prepared to hate this but I loved it! #familyfun

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. I have my good and bad and worse days but so do other jobs and the latter may even be worse because of the time it takes away from family, something I so fiercely guard. Thanks for visiting.


  3. I’m a single mum and my son’s Dad lives on the other side of the world. I don’t get paid sick leave if I’m off work and he doesn’t pay maintenance (arsehole) so, other than the odd cough and cold, I am certainly not allowed to get ill!! #globalblogging

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Good post. I think whilst someone could be paid to do what you do, similarly someone else could be paid to do what your husband does. It just happens that he gets paid for his daily work and you don’t. You’re right that it’s about balance and neither one of you takes precedence over the other in the grand scheme of things. I think working as a unit is the key message. Or, in more literal terms, trying to stop the now recovered children from terrorising the house through boredom and hunger ๐Ÿ˜‰ #FamilyFun


    1. Oh Angela. Thank you so much for saying that. I just have these feelings of self-doubt on my worst days. Oh well..Thanks for laying it out in such simple terms. Made my own post more sensible to me ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It sucks to be ill whoever we are! I like how you got to 800 words and celebrated the shortness of it! That’s tickled me! Thanks for linking up to #familyfun

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh it’s difficult when you’re sick and it is often a contentious point in our household. Mr Tammy works for himself so there is no sick pay and if he doesn’t go in he doesn’t open, which he finds stressful. If I am sick well Mr Tammy does still have to go to work and I still have to do my daily activities as we all know parenting doesn’t come with sick pay leave either. Yes somebody could be paid to do a lot of what we do but I do believe (hope with everything I have) the fact we, mum, are the ones doing it, the entertaining, crafting, feeding, bathing etc is to our children, priceless. I hope you and your little ones feel better soon. Thank you for sharing at #familyfun

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I found it funny reading this because I constantly wonder if I got sick if my partner would be able to cope looking after himself and the baby and sadly I think the answer is no. I just don’t think he could do it all but what he does do he does well. #GlobalBlogging

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s always something that we are just a little bit better at than our partner. As long as there is teamwork and an appreciation for what the other does, it all works out, right? Or at least, that’s the hope. Thanks for visiting.


  8. I must admit, I don’t often get ill, and I have a really hands on husband, however, there are many days that I have to look in the mirror and remind myself what my name is!! No one is going to build a statue in my honor. And yes. The house will still be standing!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Great post! #globalblogging

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am sick right now and it is terrible. Both my partner and I work full time so luckily on Friday I took the day off and my son went to nursery (it’s paid on a monthly basis so even if he didn’t go I would still have to pay for it, so I thought why not have a break?!). Of course I ended up working from my laptop anyway, but that’s besides the point : ). I think it’s important to take the time off (says the hypocrite) because you need to be 100% in order to do anything, work or children! : ) Thanks for sharing with #GlobalBlogging!

    Liked by 1 person

Please share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: