Taking a Rain Check on Valentine’s Day
Last week, my husband asked me what I wanted to do for Valentine's Day, and I looked at him, my eyes full of need, and whispered, “Take a nap.” He laughed, I laughed, and together, we decided the only thing to do was cancel Valentine's Day.
Not forever, but possibly, at least until the youngest is potty trained and can sleep through the night. That's where people lose me when they tell me I have to keep the romance alive in my marriage after kids. Are you kidding? I'm working to keep myself alive and two tiny children who depend on me for everything. I don't have time to worry about keeping romance alive, too!
Romance to me is when my husband comes home from work and immediately grabs the baby off my hip while I'm cooking dinner. Or when he throws some shoes on the toddler and takes her to the park for half an hour while the baby naps so I can get the house (and myself) back in order.
Seriously, nothing turns me on more.
I can't think of anything worse than trying to dress myself up for a night out on Valentine's Day, a.k.a. the Longest Dinner Wait of the Year. Why on earth would I want to detangle myself from my baby, only to shove myself into control top pantyhose and an itchy push-up bra and stand in high heels for a 45-minute wait at Olive Garden with every other couple in town?
That's 45 minutes of missed sleep, my friends. Give me a box of macaroni and cheese, some boxed wine, and BAM! — a romantic pasta dinner. For a little touch of traditional Valentine's Day, I'll have the husband pick up a Hershey's bar at the gas station on his way home from work that day.
What I envision doing on that oh-so-important day is a family movie night, with each of us snuggling one of our babies. Once they have been safely tucked in their own beds, we can watch a few episodes of a show on Netflix, then crash in our clothes, hands intertwined, ready to take on the 6 a.m. toddler wake-up call together.
I'm well aware that refusing to take time out for ourselves as a couple could lead to resentment and a break-down of communication –but only if we let it. A night out requires planning, asking family members to watch our kids well in advance of the date, and Valentine's Day is a very inconvenient day to ask for a babysitter. Our parents and siblings — our normal go-to babysitters — obviously all have plans themselves, as they are tiny-child free.
Valentine's Day is for the heinously young (enjoy sleeping in the next morning, twentysomethings!) and empty nesters. Parents living the glamorous life of diapers, baby food, and renditions of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” being sung at maximum volume in the bathtub don't have the luxury of time or opportunity to stop the world on Valentine's Day and create a Nicholas Sparks-inspired romantic evening.
Finding love in the smaller things — the less traditional displays of affection — is what keeps romance alive. He filled up my car for me because he noticed I was low, or I bought a special brand of coffee he hadn't tried before because I thought he would enjoy it. We revel in those actions and wait for the day when we can easily slip out to the car and head to Olive Garden, without worrying about a 6 a.m. wake-up call. Though, when we do, I'm sure we will be missing our chaotic family days at home, wishing we once again had little ones to worry about.