This morning, when I was really annoyed because I’d been trying (unsuccessfully) for 20 minutes to drink a cup of coffee while dealing with kid demands and interruptions, I said to my husband, “It’s a good thing I have low expectations for Valentine’s Day, because let’s face it – it’s a holiday for people in relationships, but without children. It’s not for the rest of us.” After the kids went to school, my husband ventured out into the snow, and when he returned I heard him clattering and banging around in cabinets, so I went out to the kitchen to investigate. He was busy putting 4 beautiful roses – 1 from him, and 1 from each of the kids – into a vase. I asked him why he didn’t just get a vase from the florist, and he replied, “Because they charge for them, and I knew you would think it was wasteful to buy a vase when we already have plenty of vases at home.”
I heard on the news this morning that the average person spends $130 on Valentine’s Day, but I personally think that a man who pays attention when his wife talks is showing love in a way that is much more valuable.
When you’re married with children, romance looks different. It’s less about flowers and jewelry and grand gestures, and more about small, quiet, everyday expressions of love. My husband shows his love for me every morning when he brings me a cup of coffee with exactly the right amount of cream, because after 13 years together he knows just how I like it. I could get my own coffee, but he knows that I’m not a morning person, so he enjoys serving me in this small way. He shows his love for me by keeping my car filled with gas, and mopping the kitchen floor because he knows I hate doing it, and jumping up to fetch me a glass of water when I complain of being thirsty in the middle of the night. He also works really hard to provide for our family so that I can stay home with our children and have the life I always wanted. I think that’s a pretty grand gesture.
You know, the gifts and special occasions – that stuff is the easy part. It’s easy to be a couple when life is carefree and fun and everything seems grand, but nobody has a marriage that is one big holiday. Sticking together through the everyday crap that life throws at you is the real challenge, and when you’re fortunate enough to have a person who will go through it all with you, someone who is always on your side, and will always stick up for you (in my case, even when he knows I’m wrong), well….that’s when you understand what real love is.
One morning, in an effort to get out of a P.E. unit she hates, and a LEO presentation, our usually good-natured Bee was behaving in a very tweenager-ish manner. She was claiming to be sick, and she argued and argued that she should stay home, but I knew she wasn’t really sick so I said, “Forget it.” When she continued to argue, I made her call her Dad, who also said she had to go to school. After she hung up, she resumed her argument with me, but she didn’t realize that my husband hadn’t hung up yet (on purpose), so he heard our entire conversation. She was very surprised when he called back and asked to speak with her. He told her, “I heard everything you just said to your mother. If you say one more word to her, going to school will be the least of your worries.”
And that was the end of it.
I called him back to tell him how much I love him, and that he kicks ass, basically, because when you’re married with 3 kids, this is what true romance looks like. There’s not a single cliched Valentine’s Day gift that can beat it.