I know as a married woman and mother I’m supposed to have fond memories of Valentine’s Day. There seems to be an expectation that I should remember my Valentines-from-days-past with a soft smile and a wistful sigh…the ‘glory’ days before school runs, dirty nappies and a mortgage. Yet this couldn’t be further from the truth. I simply don’t like Valentine’s Day. I never have.
When I was in my late teens/early 20s I had boyfriends who either forgot Valentine’s Day…or would throw a random rose in front of me and expect me to be grateful. One charmer even told me how much trouble he had gone to when he secured the final soft toy/rose bouquet with the last of his fortnightly wage at a service station…and then sulked for the rest of the evening about being broke.
In my 20’s, fiancé 1.0 became deliberately cruel just before Valentine’s Day so I would call off the engagement…so he wouldn’t have to buy me a Valentine’s Day gift. Instead, he wanted to buy a Valentine’s Day gift for his psychologist because ‘she really understands me.’ I told him to go ahead. His parting words were that he didn’t think he could have a wife who had such strong beliefs and opinions and who wanted to go to university. The horror. He was completely bewildered when he found out his psych wasn’t interested.
In my early 30’s, when husband 1.0 had to work interstate, I bought a puzzle Valentine’s Day card that you wrote on the back…then broke it up and mailed it off for it to be reconstructed with the message of love. It was about 12 pieces in total. When it arrived, I received a livid phone call.
‘What were you THINKING? Actually, don’t answer that because it’s clear that you weren’t. AGAIN. I spend all day fixing aircraft that have been broken, often through people’s stupidity, then you send me a puzzle which I have to BUILD?! Do you know me AT ALL?’ Nope. Obviously not. But what I did know was that it was yet another piece of evidence that being in a relationship did not necessarily amount to having a good Valentine’s Day.
On Valentine’s Day 2008, I was in the Middle East on deployment. We were all a bit on edge…it would be a great day for a rocket strike, the Tailban loved to wait for any Western holiday or celebration to attack. The relationship with my now-husband was still very new and I was still very much emotionally bruised from my ex, husband 1.0. I had no idea how a Valentine’s Day gift would be received. But I thought, ‘Ah bugger it, if I stuff it up, I’ll just blame the war.’
Due to the incredibly limited and overtaxed bandwidth on base, it took over 4 hours to purchase an exceptionally overpriced bottle of medium quality vodka, a box of chocolates and a ridiculous soft toy which had something like ‘Especially for you’ on it. (No kidding…I’ve just sent it to you, who else would it be for?)
However, when husband 2.0-to-be received the Valentine’s Day hamper, he was absolutely delighted. And a boyfriend demonstrating gratitude, rather than entitlement, was a side to Valentine’s Day I hadn’t experienced before. It was another indication that maybe this man was different to the others. In a good way.
Today as a working Mum of two, I laugh when people ask what my plans are for Valentine’s Day. I’m not going to spend the time, energy and budget to show my husband (2.0, not 1.0…no puzzle why that didn’t work out) for just ONE day a year how much I love him. For me, the remaining 364 are just as important.
However, this does not mean I don’t deserve SOME Valentine’s Day appreciation. Two gorgeous children earn me more than flowers. So, I have a list sweetheart. Good luck. 😉
Ten things that Mummy wants for Valentine’s Day:
1. Champagne. A bottle…all to myself. And I’m not talking sparking wine here. I’m talking French. Mummy may need a sleep in the next morning.
2. Boobs. More specifically, mine to return to their previous buoyancy pre-two children. Yes, I’m blaming the children and not time or gravity. It’s Valentine’s Day. Let me have this delusion.
3. Toilet time. Just to sit on it uninterrupted. For 5 minutes.
4. Time to paint my nails. Ok, I can paint them, now but THEN I want time for them to dry without smudging due to a nappy poonami or having to be Anna during a Frozen monologue.
5. Eating in peace. Without having to share or look around while I eat to see if anything is being torn apart or destroyed. In particular I’d like to eat chocolate without having to hide. Just Having Food To Myself is a luxury.
6. School lunches. Make them for a week. From scratch. And they have to be nutritiously balanced AND visually appealing. Please see Gherkin Sandwich Revolution for the expected parameters.
7. No podiatry injuries. Again, just for a week. Specifically, no stepping on a Queen Elsa crown or Lego brick during the last minute should-check-if-the-children-are-still-breathing routine.
8. Washing for a week. Including soaking and folding. I do an average of 16 loads a week. Yes, that’s a lot. My Mummy fantasy isn’t ’50 shades of grey’. It’s having someone else do my washing and it not ending up being ’50 shades of white.’
9. A hair and makeup artist. I used to allow for an hour to get ready every morning. Now it’s 10 minutes, including shower. I’m just another person to get fed, dressed and out the door in the morning and it’s tiring doing so for three others as well …5 if you include feeding our fur children. Thank God for the ponytail.
10. Botox. Yes, I know we can’t afford Botox. Yes, we both know the thought of someone coming towards me with a needle to stick into my face makes my skin crawl. Yes, this is why I have a fringe instead. So when I raise it after another sleep deprived night has taken its toll, come up with a convincing exclamation of incredulous surprise of ‘But my love…you don’t need it !’ And say it with feeling. Your life may depend on it.
This year my husband and I will celebrate Valentine’s…just not on the day itself. The week after we will go out for a quiet date night dinner, spending time together is rare and thus incredibly precious. And if you don’t make the effort of remembering why you fell in love with your partner in the first place, it is very easy to let everyday life shove your relationship to one side.
But we also don’t wait once a year to celebrate how much we love each other. It’s the small things we both do on a daily basis. Like saying I love you multiple times a day. It’s still kissing your partner years later like you did when you first started to go out…and never wanting to let go. It’s giving your partner some time to themselves (where possible) just to have a break. It’s giving and receiving spontaneous and meaningful hugs, soul to soul. And none of these small things cost a cent. But they do add up to a happy marriage. What I have now is real, simple and genuine.
Love is about saying my Mummy Valentine’s Day list would be a nice ‘to have’ …but it’s not realistic, anymore than Valentine’s Day is the best…and only day…of the year to show someone you love them. Instead, love is about having a partner who knows the only non-negotiable point of my list is number one-it’s always number one. There must always be champagne in our marriage.
I love you, sweetheart. And that’s on every day, every year. Oxox.