What with all the "babyproofing your marriage" talk, I understand that keeping the romance alive and well in my marriage is essential.
I am, after all, a product of the Enjoli generation. I'm supposed to have it all, all the time. Women sacrificed! fought! committed their lives! to ensure I had the opportunity and training to bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let my man forget he's a man. (Bolstered, of course, by perfume that is sure to last eight hours!)
The least I can do is take advantage of a holiday dedicated to romance.
So did we?
I think so.
The thing is after fifteen years your idea of what love is, what romance is, what makes good can change. My ideas have. Thankfully.
I like the little things. I like that my husband brought me a truly gorgeous arrangement of roses, and a really neat and sweet card.
But what I really like is that he gets up and goes to work at the crack of dawn so he can come home and spend time, including dinner, with us. I really like that he lets my crazy moods roll off his back (usually). I really like how he makes the kids feel like the center of his universe. I especially like how he's just plain here, as committed to this as I am.
So what did we do for Valentine's Day?
In the morning, my husband hauled himself to work before dawn broke. I shuffled the kids through our usual routine and then I dropped them off at school where I knew---despite my pleas since Christmas---they'd be practically sugared to death with candy other parents brought in for the holiday, some of it inevitably containing peanuts, despite my personal appeals and school notes and policies.
(Hello...you, yes you, the parent who thinks handing out candy at each holiday is a good idea? It's not. Please stop. And for the record, anything called Reese's Peanut Butter does, in fact, contain peanuts. I KNOW! Such a SURPRISE! But there you have it. For the record, when someone is allergic to peanuts? It's not fun, nor is it a joke, nor is it something we just need to get over. I wish just once you could have a mad rush to the ER with anaphylactic shock. Just once. You'd change your tune. And to the parent who sends stickers and pencils? Thanks. A lot.) (Edited to clarify: This isn't irony. I really do like the pencils. I also like the notepads, tattoos and other little useful items like that. I'm perfectly fine with nothing, too.)
I hurried to work where I took care of a few tasks, rushing, trying to leave time to exercise. First I said, okay 45 minutes instead of an hour. Next, I compromised and said, okay half an hour. Finally, okay, 20 minutes for exercise and 10 minutes to get ready to go to get the kids.
Once I arrived at the school, I covered for a friend and my daughter's teacher so the friend could go to the doctor and the teacher could teach an after school program. I huddled in a classroom with five children, two of whom were mine, and then took them all home with me, teacher included. We forced them all to sleep or lose brain cells in front of a TV and shared tea while folding laundry and trading quips.
My husband posted to my blog (twice!) as a romantic Valentine's gesture during the day. Then he came home with the flowers and card.
I gave him a heart-shaped milk chocolate flavored treat wrapped in foil with a Lab photo and caption, "I drool for you." I also did not snark once about him getting home an hour later than expected without even calling. I'm sure he valued that more than any box of truffles.
The kids had already eaten by the time he got home, so I had a Lean Cuisine and he had a sandwich. We spiced it up with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, in front of the children.
Our conversation went something like, "So how was your d...hey kids off the glider."
"Fine, except I did catch this...girls, mom said off the glider, why don't you color?"
"I got your email did you get that thing finished...hey you heard dad, kids, how about you put some of your new stickers on some paper?"
"Which email, was it the...oh man Persistence just fell running into the kitchen..."
He raced off to comfort the fallen child, and herded them upstairs into a bath and bed. I washed the dishes.
That's real love, my friends. That's real romance. That's real marriage. (Edited to add again: This isn't irony. This is honesty. Truth. Straightforward.)
Like I said, we acknowledge the day in some way, which varies. I think it's good to seize opportunities for fun, for special things. The little gestures like flowers and the big gestures like a night out alone are good. They might even be esential. I'm not sure I can say.
On a daily basis, I'll tell you what's hot to me.
It's coming downstairs in the morning and finding the dishwasher unloaded.
It's getting time to blog surf in the evening as my husband handles bath time.
It's pouring out my heart for at least a full hour about some matter troubling me and having my husband listen patiently.
Now that's romantic. (Edited to add: And I mean this sincerely.)
Now this is retro:
all images and text copyright 2007 Julie Pippert