By: Jessica Aldred
Reservations made weeks in advance, an outfit carefully laid out and a thoughtfully selected card prepared for a romantic night out with your significant other. Laughing and reminiscing over good food and a few drinks, followed by a movie or some other form of night time entertainment…ok, stop laughing.
Yes, Valentine’s Day is once again upon us, but the romanticism and blissful thoughts that this day may have once represented are long gone. Now this day represents another bullet on the To-Do list, another set of half cut-out hearts slathered in glue and glitter, and a crazy price spike in all things red. If you’re lucky enough to sneak out to celebrate, you’ll likely find yourself quietly consuming a meal prepared by someone else, without playing waitress to your minions, and discussing the upcoming kid-focused needs and events. Your significant other may even feel somewhat special that you’ve worn “real” clothes, slapped on some mascara and brushed the dried baby food out of your hair. Ah, yes, we reproduced friends and this is what Valentine’s Day has come to.
I remember standing at the altar on my wedding day; the Justice of the Peace was going through the motions as we followed along. When I reflect on that day, one statement stands out above all others: “These are the hands that will carry your children.” No truer words were ever spoken. These hands carry my children, their food, drinks, bags, blankies, toys and anything else they demand I schlep around for them. I’m a Pack Mule Mom, remember. It’s no wonder these tired hands don’t have time to hold my husbands’ anymore. It shouldn’t come as a shock that we don’t have time to sit and enjoy a peaceful meal, simply enjoying each others company anymore. We wanted this. We brought this on ourselves and while the J.P.’s words once represented something so dream-like, they now represent our daily reality as we struggle to keep our roots planted in what drew us together in the first place.
As this Valentine’s Day approaches, you’ll likely find my husband and I bathing small children, filling sippy cups, and yelling at kids to stop fighting. When bed-time finally sets in you’ll find us sitting in opposite chairs in our living room watching reruns of our favorite shows, or perhaps splurging on a movie! We’ll sit quietly, together, and enjoy the calm after our daily storm. We’ll reflect on the silly comments our kids made, our plans for the next day and whatever other fleeting thoughts we didn’t have time to share. It’s not where we started, nor where any of us intends to be, but it’s where we are and I’ll take it. I’ll take a fridge covered in Popsicle stick art. I’ll take the crumbled heart shaped cookies we made together and I’ll take the spontaneous hugs and kisses that we’ve shared. This is my life. The life I created. The life I love despite the daily stress it causes me.
This Valentine’s Day I’ll tip-toe into my children’s rooms. I’ll tuck them in and check their breathing. I’ll stare just a little too long. As I do so, my husband will watch from a doorway doting on the woman who carried his children, who worries about them daily, who fills their bellies, cleans their clothes and keeps them going. And, as I reflect on how my Valentine’s Day expectations have evolved, this one will rank pretty darn close to the best ever.
I’d love to hear how having a children or a family has changed your perception, or reality, of Valentine’s Day fun?