Valentine’s Day’s New Meaning

“Since we’re throwing a party on Valentine’s Day weekend, we don’t need to actually do anything for Valentine’s Days, do we?”

I stared at Jason and blinked. Was he kidding?? I blinked some more and then snarkily retorted, “Just read my blog post from last year!” He seemed taken back.

“What did it say?”

“Just read it….” I huffily ended the conversation, annoyed that he didn’t remember how hard I had worked to make last year’s Valentine’s Day special. After my knee jerk reaction of anger had cooled down a bit, I stopped to consider what Jason was asking me.

I considered where we were a year ago versus now. Last year, we were struggling so hard to make ANY time for each other between Jason’s switch shift job, my busy work schedule, and the schedules of three kids, one of them being a wonderful, yet demanding baby. Everything was a high priority except “us”.

Flashing forward to this Valentine’s Day, our lives had changed. Every day, we have been working to keep our relationship alive with texts saying “I love you” and small romantic gestures. Date nights have become a weekly event with dinners after the kids go down to sleep or sneaking out early for a movie. We’ve grown to understand that the firm foundation of our relationship was important for the happiness of the entire family.

20120214-210828.jpgSuddenly, pressuring my husband to come up with something for Valentine’s Day just didn’t seem as important. After all, it’s not just a holiday for us, but for the entire family.

When Jason sheepishly returned to me with his Valentine’s Day plans, throwing out dinner restaurants, movie ideas, back rubs or anything that would make me feel special, I smiled, grateful for the effort. “Why don’t we have a special dinner with the kids at home?”

Jason jumped with the idea, planning a lovely dinner of fondue for all of us. In between the rush of Mom’s work schedule and running to the gym, Dad’s writing projects and the boys sports schedule, we hadn’t had a nice family dinner in weeks. Finally, we got a chance to slow 20120214-210843.jpgdown and remind each other of all the reasons we love and care about each other. Ethan got to dance in his chair as he proudly cooked his fondue, Anthony talked endlessly about how awesome steak was (and did you know steak is made from beef?) while Keira exclaimed proudly to her family “big girl fork!” and “Look! Flowers for Mama!”

A noisy, bustling, family dinner over fancy food with the four people in the world I love most. What more could I ask for as a Valentine’s Day present?

The Changing Tide of Romance

I’ve always hated Valentine’s Day. I, like many of my friends, considered it the “hallmark” holiday and wondered why we needed a special day to tell your loved ones that you love them. Shouldn’t you be treating them that way the entire year?

And then I became a mother of three.

When evenings are spent trying to fold laundry and weekends are about running errands or kids to sports, romance falls by the wayside. I finally got it. Valentine’s Day is for the couples that have let life take over and gives them a chance to take a breathe and remember each other.

So, when I got up Valentine’s day morning, I decided, this year, we’re going to celebrate! I mentally planned out how I would cook a delicious meal for Jason with his favorite pasta and sun-dried tomatoes. I’d wait until the kids were in bed and then I’d still have half an hour to pull it all together before Jason came home from work at 9pm.

So, I rushed home from work, planning the entire way how I would pull together everything, including cute heart cupcakes and sprinkled ice cream. A mudslide, for my non-drinking husband (with half the booze). I smiled as I pictured us sitting in candle light and listening to an iTunes playlist of our favorite love music.

I should have known better as I walked through the door at 6:10pm. “Mommy’s home, Keira!” my sister/nanny exclaimed. “She’s still a bit sleepy since she just woke up.”

What!? Just woke up!?!? Oh no, this won’t be good…

But I was determined, and shooed the kids to get ready to go to the grocery store and pick up the fixings for dinner. Anthony, feeling in a particularly sarcastic mood, said, “No, I’m not going” and proceeded to start a pillow fit using the couch cushions with Papa. I sighed and packed Keira into the car seat. After I was completely ready, I pushed the kids out the door and headed into the windy evening.

Besides fighting my sarcastic child down every aisle to hurry along and knock off the kidding, the grocery store visit was fairly uneventful. However, arriving home at 7:20 put a damper on my mood as I considered everything I had to accomplish in the next hour and a half. I buckled Keira into her high chair and handed Anthony her baby food and spoon. He happily fed her as I ordered Ethan around to help me unload the groceries, unload the dishwasher, pick up, and prepare the cupcakes. I was Sergent Mommy and I was on a mission. In the meantime, Papa graciously fixed up the boys’ favorite meal of “beanies and weanies”.

8:10pm ticks by and I’m pacing the kitchen with a cranky Keira in my arms, waiting for the cupcakes to finish baking in order for me to get Keira in the bathtub. Finally, I pull the cupcakes out of the oven and dash up the stairs to give Keira the quickest bath of her short lifetime, leaving the kids downstairs at the breakfast counter to finish up their dinner. In the 10 minutes it took for me to bathe Keira, I walked down to find kitchen utterly destroyed by two little boys. I flew off the handle. And then took a deep breath. “I love you two but would you please help me out a bit??”

They agreed. And I walked up the stairs at 8:30pm to put Keira down for bed as she was already half an hour past her bedtime. But it wasn’t as simple as that. She fought me to get to sleep tooth and nail, crying and pushing off of me that she wanted to play instead of sleep. Finally, at 8:55pm, I set her down in the crib to cry-it-out a bit as I rushed downstairs to at least get the microwave started with our dinner. As I hurriedly prepared what I could, I checked my phone. Jason called at 9:01pm to let me know he was coming up. Oh, thank God. For the first time, I was happy that he was running late from work.

I sighed as I realized Keira’s crying was no longer the whimper she initially started with and had progressed into full on sobs. I stomped up the stairs to again try to rock her back to sleep. After her lullaby CD began playing for the 3rd time that evening, she finally drifted off to sleep. I snuck out of her bedroom, sure she’d wake up yet again, to find Jason waiting outside of her bedroom.

“You are so cute.” and with a smile, he kissed me and gave me a giant hug. With a deep breath, I relaxed into his arms before walking downstairs to finally sit down for our dinner. After an hour of talking purely about our kids and finishing up our meal, I sat back, exhausted in my chair. It was all worth it.

Romantic Dinner - Complete with Baby Monitor