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Reynolds: My Funny Valentine

Thoughts on how love and devotion change in the state of parenthood.

Love.

We are being force-fed love this week.  We are being deluged with images of romantic dinners, couples massages, diamond jewelry, and bouquets of red roses.  Advice for “sexy date night looks” and the “most romantic” dinner spots are filling my email. 

But, Valentine’s Day is on a Tuesday.  Tuesday.  Tuesday of a “work-week.”  Am I really expected to go out for a couple’s massage on a Tuesday?  It would be impossible to make dinner reservations, find a babysitter, and organize the kids and all of their “comings and goings.”   There is still basketball practice, and dinner to make, and bath time, and a book report due.

And not to mention, you are dog-tired, ten pounds heavier than your “going out dress” can hide, and can’t find your spanx….

Love and romance certainly change when you are living in the state of parenthood.  Love and devotion look completely different… but there is a very real beauty in that.

I offer a celebration of the long haul, of love in the trenches, and how to celebrate that “the love of your life” now shares equal (if at times lesser) billing with your children.

There is a time and a place for candlelight dinners, rose petals, and “going out" (or staying in) dresses, but here is a look at all the other grand gestures that can be shared only by two people who really, really love each other....

I love you because you didn’t pass out or vomit when I was giving birth.  When my body was pushed to the absolute limits of physical stress, emotional stress, and I was as vulnerable and exposed as ever, you hung in there.  You didn’t look horrified or grossed out (even though we both were), you looked impressed.

I also love you for not taking any of the unkind things I said, or physical pain I inflicted on you to heart.

I love you because you stayed awake with me for about four straight months. Nobody except the parents of an infant can understand how exhausted the parents of an infant can be. 

I love you because instead of turning your nose up at me when I chose sleep over basic hygiene, you threw a blanket over me, and turned off the light.

I love you because life is scary sometimes.  When kids get sick, and money gets tight, and the world seems dangerous, you stand tall and face it with me.  I love you because you held my hand as tight during our darkest hours as you did during our first woozy, whirling days.

I love you because when I think I will absolutely lose my mind over a book report, or the fifteenth dumped toy bucket, or the fourth dishwasher cycle in a day, you know to quietly step in and take over.

I love you because you are calm to my crazy.  When you come home after work, and I am in the throes of the afternoon “witching hour” you smile, and say “hello beautiful.”  You don’t see the mess, and the overflowing backpacks, and the muddy shoes.  You are able to see “home” and remind me how lucky we are to be living in all of this chaos.

I love you because there are the rare nights when we do have a babysitter, and a shower, and are able to go out and eat a meal and have a beer, and I still love talking to you.  And I love that we both know that this is enough right now.  I love that neither one of us needs to spend our limited time, freedom, and cash on a big trip to somewhere spectacular… because here in the state of parenthood, this is spectacular. 

I love you because you scrape the ice off my windshield, take out the trash, unclog the toilets, clean the filter on the pool, and all the other gross things that I don’t want to do. 

I love quiet nights at home, ordering from Town Pizza, and falling asleep halfway through a movie.

I love waking up early on the weekends, and making pancakes with the kids. 

I love that you buy me scratch tickets even though we both know I’m not going to win a million dollars.  I love it because it means that we both know that there are still plenty of things to dream about. 

I love that there was a time when you couldn’t see me without makeup, and now I floss my teeth in front of you.

I love that in all of the crazy, scary, gross, amazing, beautiful, and exhausting moments that come with being a parent that I will have you with me for the ride.

I know that there are candlelight dinners and rose petals in our future, but tonight, my Valentine, I toast this life over chicken nuggets and spaghetti. 

After the book report, and the laundry, and the bath routine, and the dishes, and this column and a little bit of paper work for my job, I get to collapse in to bed with the love of my life.  Sure I’ll be wearing a sweatshirt, and flannel pajama pants… it is a Tuesday after all.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and all of your loves.

Shannon Macdonald February 15, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Well said, Colleen.

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