My husband, Dennis, and I have been married for almost 20 years. That’s right. 20. Years.
And Valentine’s Day? Oh, sister, I can tell you that Valentine’s Day is a whole heckuva lot different today than when we celebrated it as two starry-eyed young lovers embarking on a budding romance. Marriage and kids will do that, you see. And while those commonly regarded expressions of love might change or even *poof* disappear altogether over the years, it doesn’t mean our relationship needs resuscitation. Or that our bond is in any way broken. To the contrary, experiencing this “married-with-children” phase together, in all its hard and hot mess glory, is what real love is all about. Am I right or am I right? And while roses, chocolates and champagne are great and all (hint, hint, gentlemen), I truly wouldn’t want it any other way.
Celebrating a Married-with-Children Valentine’s Day yourself? This might sound all too familiar…
Instead of a candlelight dinner, it’s a four-alarm fire as you try to squeeze in a family meal before hustling all the kids off to practice.
Instead of bubbling flutes of champagne, it’s a juice glass filled with cheap (but damn good) cabernet and your favorite Netflix show cued up for when you finally get the kids to bed.
Instead of a heart-shaped box of chocolates, it’s raiding the Hershey kisses from the goodie bag your kid brought home from their Valentine’s Day class party.
Instead of expensive red roses delivered to the office, it’s a bouquet of neon-colored carnations. (It’s all they had at the grocery store, where you asked him to stop on his way home to pick up a gallon of milk.)
Instead of an hours-long cuddle marathon, it’s a hug and a reassuring “it’s going to be okay” from your spouse after a major parenting fail.
Instead of French perfume or Italian cologne, it’s barely noticing when the other let’s one rip on the couch next to you.
Instead of breakfast in bed, it’s your spouse getting up early to take care of the kids because you had a little too much fun (and margarita) the night before.
Instead of foreplay, it’s a heated game of rock-paper-scissors. Loser’s stuck wiping the toddler’s butt after they go “poopie on the potty.”
Instead of high-heels and dress ties, it’s “I can’t wait to take this damn bra off” or “get out of these stupid work clothes” before sliding into your favorite sweatshirt and fleece pajama pants.
Instead of sexy role playing, it’s taking turns playing nurse (and janitor) to a kid who’s had the stomach flu all night long.
Instead of provocative texts, it’s a text apologizing for being crabby or saying something insensitive last time you talked to each other because you were tired or PMSing or the kids were working your last nerve.
Instead of dinner at the hottest restaurant with the hottest chef, it’s General Tso chicken and pork fried rice from your favorite Chinese takeout joint in town.
Instead of a couple’s massage, it’s a foot rub after a long day of meal prep because you both are on this crazy low-carb, low-sugar, low-calorie, clean-eating diet that you started on New Year’s Day.
Forget diamond earrings. Now it’s homemade macaroni necklaces and salt-dough heart ornaments from the kids.
Instead of slow dancing to your song, it’s showing your kids how to do the running man or Humpty Dance when their friends are over (you know, for maximum embarrassment).
Instead of poetry, it’s taking turns helping your frustrated, math-challenged kid with their homework.
Instead of a surprise romantic gift, it’s “I’ll just order it myself online because it’s on sale at Kohl’s, and they’re offering free shipping and bonus Kohl’s cash this week.”
Instead of dirty talk, it’s talking each other off the ledge when this parenting gig gets really, really hard.
Instead of a long night of passionate love making, it’s a quickie because you must wake up early to pack lunches, get the kids off to school and somehow still make that 8AM meeting at work.
Instead of sex toys, it’s picking up the minefield of Legos and action figures, so no one has to endure the agony of stepping on one in the middle of the night when nature calls.
Instead of PDA, it’s the whole family attending the Valentine’s Day fundraising spaghetti dinner sponsored by the PTA.
Instead of limo rides, it’s bundling up the kids in snow pants, gloves, hats, scarfs and jackets, and rushing their Pillsbury doughboy butts out the door to make sure they don’t miss the bus.
Instead of staying up talking all night, it’s knowing what the other is thinking without saying a word.
Now that’s real love, my friends. And if you’re in the throes of it, I know you wouldn’t want it any other way, too.
© Rachael Liska, happyhearthappyhome.com
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