Oh, Valentine’s Day. Can I be honest? I’m not a fan.
I remember you as a young girl. You set up so many expectations in my waiting-for-love heart. I watched the commercials reminding all the men to visit the jewelry stores and flower shops. I sneaked glances at romantic words written in flowery cards as my mom shopped. I read the Power Ranger and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cards in my Valentine’s box with hopeful anticipation that maybe my crush wrote more than his name. I watched all the TV shows on Friday night that reinforced the beautiful jewelry, flowers, mushy words, sweet kisses, and romance of the holiday.
You, holiday of romance, filled my head and heart with all the things I thought I wanted out of love. And I had the audacity to believe that, someday, I would have just that.
And, now, here I am 14 years into marriage and almost 20 Valentine’s Days gone, looking back on all I thought I wanted and appreciating what I have instead.
I thought I wanted romantic dinners with candles and wine. Instead, I have a man willing to pick up pizza on his way home because it was a long day and I didn’t get to dinner.
I thought I wanted flowers delivered each Valentine’s Day, birthday, anniversary, and sometimes just because. Instead, I find “I love you” scrawled on a sticky note in my bag and random texts telling me I’m beautiful and appreciated.
I thought I wanted to be swept off my feet, surprised, and pampered. Instead, I’m content to see him sweeping the kitchen floor as I load plates into the dishwasher and we talk about our days.
I thought I wanted hand-holding and walks down a country road at sunset. Instead, I look across the couch full of our babies between us, lock eyes, and steal a smile as we search Netflix for something to please everyone.
I thought I wanted lovely getaways or exotic vacations, just the two of us. Instead, we hold hands between the incessant chorus of “are we there yet?” on family road trips.
I thought I wanted gems and diamonds marking the years we’d spent together. Instead, I get hand lotion I’m too cheap to buy, or a gift certificate to a local boutique for the outfit I’ve had my eyes on.
I thought I wanted a sweet kiss each evening as my husband walked in the door. Instead, sometimes I barely say hi before handing him a child who’s pushed me to my limit.
I thought I wanted date nights and babysitters every month. Instead, we fall exhausted onto the couch after all are tucked in and watch an episode of our favorite show, maybe even two.
I thought I wanted all that Valentine’s day embodied. I thought I wanted romance. Instead, I have love. Real love. Love that can’t be found in diamonds, flowers, fancy date nights, or getaways. Love seen in sacrifice and compromise. Love that shows up every, single day not just the 14th of February.
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