I don’t know what you’re doing this Valentine’s Day.
Maybe you’re going out for an indulgent dinner with your beloved. Maybe you’re planning on buying, or expecting to receive, some roses or chocolates or an adorable fluffy teddy bear with its arms outstretched towards you.
Maybe you don’t do Valentine’s Day. Maybe you’ve just fallen into that rhythm without meaning to, or maybe you’ve always loathed it and made a point of not getting involved out of principle.
Maybe you’ve been planning ahead for weeks, or months, or maybe this is the first time you’ve realized, “Whoops, Valentine’s Day is coming!”
Maybe you care, or maybe you don’t.
Maybe you’re like me, and you already know there won’t be a restaurant, or high heels, or lipstick applied with precision, or cologne on his collar, or hors d’oeuvres, or strawberries dipped in chocolate. And maybe you’re OK with that.
Maybe your former self would’ve wrung her hands in dismay at the complete unromantic you’ve become. Is this what having kids does to a couple? Does it really strip you of every last shred of spontaneity and, you know, the ability to just fuss over each other a little every now and again?
Maybe you ask yourself that sometimes. Have we lost our spark? Our love is a totally different creature to what it was at the start. There’s no denying it. Maybe you thought to yourselves, we won’t ever become one of those couples—the ones who are so tired at the end of the day, or so stretched in every aspect of their lives, that they have to actually schedule in a date night—when they remember to. Maybe you thought that it would never become difficult, like all of those seasoned couples say it will be sometimes, because it’s kind of always just worked. It’s always been so breezy and effortless.
Maybe Valentine’s Day this year looks a lot like, well, every other weeknight of the year.
Maybe it looks like the comfort and delight of freshly laundered pajamas, alongside the familiar comfort of his head propped up against a cushion supported by your hip while you watch a show together. You hiss “Volume!” at various intervals in fear of waking up the kids, and he obliges without saying a word, even though he knows with utmost certainty that it’s really not that loud.
Maybe it looks like feeding the kids their dinner and putting them to bed a little bit earlier, and setting up something you cooked, just for the two of you, while you chat over a scratched up table, embellished only by streaks of crayon that went outside the lines. Maybe you’ve had that table for longer than you’ve had your kids, but you recognize every dent, every blemish, every hot coffee cup ring and can’t bear to part with it because, well, it’s become a part of what you call your home.
Maybe it looks like a babysitter who cancelled at the last minute, or one you were never able to get to begin with, but you use the energy you would’ve spent going out to have yet another debate over which takeout joint will be blessed with your patronage on this lovely evening.
Maybe you do make it to a restaurant, but spend the whole time checking the baby monitor app on your phone, or chuckling and gushing and crying over pictures and videos of the little humans you made together. Maybe you call it a day before 9 p.m. because someone is due for another feed in an hour, or the alarm of small but thundering feet entering your room never fails to go off at the crack of dawn, or maybe because, honestly? It’s getting dangerously close to either of your usual bedtimes.
Maybe love and romance looks nothing like how you thought it would. Maybe love and romance is a lot less shiny and sparkly and stomach-butterfly-inducing than it was at the start.
Maybe the things that make your heart skip a beat now are the way he puts a Band-Aid on her grazed knee with such gentleness, or the way he looks when he’s standing in the kitchen chopping vegetables, still in his work shirt, because you’ve had a day and announced upon his arrival that you’ve tapped out of making dinner and any other related responsibilities. Maybe it’s the way your son’s right dimple shows through when he beams at you and it throws you back to the young fella who caught your eye and stole your heart so many years ago. Maybe it’s that fresh cup of coffee, made just how you like it, sitting on the counter the morning after you’ve had an argument. Maybe it’s when you spot a new gray hair, or a bunch of gray hairs, and tease him about it, but then find yourself imagining what he will look like as an old man, and the thought of the two of you, grandparental and wrinkled, but probably still cracking the same jokes you make now, can’t help but bring a smile to your face.
And maybe now—now—those things, to you, are the most romantic of all.