Another really wonderful post from contributing writer Letty Muse Tomlinson.
I love spring in DC, once the rains stop. It’s mild and the landscape is as colorful as a Benetton ad from the 80s. But the beautiful, blooming botanicals always bother my allergies. Thankfully, Zyrtec, or in worse cases, Zithromax, take care of the problem and I don’t have to sit out the game of life.
One morning, before the kids woke (mercifully), I laid in bed trying to recall the last time I was sick enough to need a day of rest. It was the week before Luna was born. An annoying sinus infection coupled with late term pregnancy and toddler chasing had left me bone-tired. That weekend my darling husband took Clio off my hands so I could get a few hours of much-needed extra sleep. Before that, the last time I was sick was over Mother’s Day 2010. Same deal. As I plumbed my memory, I realized I hadn’t been notably sick for most of the last few years of my adulthood, and certainly not since I’d had children.
Then I thought about my parents. During my childhood, I couldn’t recall my mother ever taking a day off from work because she was sick. In fact, I don’t remember her taking off from work due to sickness until I was out of the house. But I do remember that my dad would have at least one or two colds a year that required him to take a day or two off. My thoughts drifted to my grandparents. Both of my grandparents are pretty hearty folk, but it took my then 83-year-old grandmother battling salmonella poisoning last year to remind me that I had never seen that woman so much as sneeze in her life. She is, as my brother calls her, a hoss. She may be petite, but she doesn’t knock down.
Was there something to the notion that a friend and I had shared once: fathers can get sick but mothers can’t afford to; Mother Nature must protect us?
It turns out, there is. A recent study finds that women have sturdier immune systems than men. In fact, our estrogen essentially boosts our innate immune systems that provide our first line of defense against pathogens. Another study finds that our double X chromosome is what works in our favor with regards to stronger immune systems than men’s. We really are inherently better fortified to fight off “the ick” because we have to be healthy (or healthy enough) to care for the children.
Learning this is good for the ego. We can get sneezed on, and then move on. Clearly, civilization depends on healthy women. I don’t know about you, but now every time I take my multi-vitamin, I feel like I’m ingesting one of the fire flowers from Super Mario brothers and I can fight off any fiend!