Here I am, 32 years of age and happily married for 10 years and I’m finally celebrating Valentine’s Day for the first time.
Yep, the first time. I mean, I’m sure there were notes exchanged back in primary school and I have unquestionably eaten my weight in those disgusting, chalky candy hearts over the years, but that doesn’t really count.
You see, back in the day, we were newlyweds in that sickly, loved-up stage where every other day was just like Valentine’s Day. Flowers were exchanged regularly, candlelit dinners were commonplace, poems were written (yes, we were that corny) and affection was showered upon each other.
When Valentine’s Day finally rolled around, we scoffed, “We don’t need someone telling us when and how to celebrate our love!” Oh, the rebels we were.
A few years passed and the passion turned into a steady flame. The grand gestures of love became a bit more subtle. Lying under the stars while we talked and dreamed, dinner reservations made at the end of a busy week without asking, spontaneous weekends away to explore the countryside together, gifts that say we know just what makes the other tick.
Valentine’s Day came and passed without any fanfare, “We don’t need to support the hype (or $$) of a silly Hallmark Holiday,” we justified.
Fast forward a couple more years and the flame has a definite flicker. While our love has actually deepened and matured, there has been a stray cat (or 10) let loose among the pigeons. We have kids! Grand gestures of any kind have been distracted by physically-demanding babies, endless dirty dishes and chronic exhaustion. Quality time has been relegated to sitting on the couch in recovery after we’ve finally wrangled the kids to bed. Leisurely conversations have been replaced with functional communication about schedules and to-do lists. It feels like we are existing in parallel universes; moving in the same direction but never the two shall meet.
Valentine’s Day now blends in with every other day in this phase of monotonous chaos. “What! It’s February already?”
The other day, as I was sifting through yet another pile of junk mail featuring Valentine’s Day specials from every jeweller in the Southern Hemisphere, I got a surprising pang of envy. It shocked me and I spent the rest of the day mulling over it as I went about breastfeeding, tidying, snack-making, tidying, playing race cars, tidying… you get the picture. By the time my husband was pulling into the driveway that evening, I had finally put my finger on the heart of the issue.
Time for a grand gesture
I want a grand gesture again. I don’t care if it is a Hallmark holiday and everyone else is doing it, I want in! I need an excuse to focus on my husband and our relationship for a change and with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it is the perfect opportunity to pack away our rebellion and eat a sliver of humble pie.
Seeing that it is my first one and all, I thought it was only fair that there were some stipulations:
- I’m leaving the house. Yes, there are plenty of fun, cheap date nights you can do at home, but not this time. Even if all my usual freebie family avenues are busy, I’m willing to pay premium rates for a babysitter, because let’s face it: It’s a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of deal.
- I’m putting on makeup. Even if it means letting my boys “help” me get ready and I have to deal with the aftermath of bathroom drawers upended, I will put mascara on both eyes.
- I’m not sharing a meal. I don’t know what it is that makes the food on my plate look more appetising to a toddler, but if it means he will actually eat his vegies, I will not complain… on any other night.
- I’m eating dessert. All diets, New Year’s resolutions and any other promises are off because I want to experience the romance of chocolate on Valentine’s Day. At least, it seems to be an integral part of the occasion in all the marketing and movies I’ve seen and I plan to find out for myself.
- Phones are not invited. No checking messages while waiting for our meal, no updating statuses between courses and no selfies at any point during the evening.
- I’m participating, too. Instead of waiting and hoping my husband aces that unwritten test of expectations for the evening, I’m going to make my own little mark to make sure he feels the love as well. I might even let the kids get in on the act.
How do you plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year? Do you have any stipulations?