Ask any middle school girl what the most romantic day of the year is and she’s (almost) guaranteed to answer Valentine’s Day. Ask any mother what the most romantic day of the year is and she’s most likely to respond with, “Any day that I don’t have to cook and/or remove dirty socks from the kitchen counter.”
That is to say, as we get older, our perspectives change. We can all remember being that sweet, albeit naïve, teenage girl who really did think that Valentine’s Day was a holiday that measured her worth in roses, candy, and romantic cards.
And of course, we all had that one friend who really bought the hype and said things like, “If I don’t get that David Yurman bracelet for Valentine’s Day, it is SO over.” I mean, c’mon, Karen. You’re 15 and your boyfriend’s only source of income is mowing his grandmother’s lawn.
Don’t worry, men, even we knew she was crazy.
But that was the thing back then – we placed so much value on material things as a sign of “love” that we often forgot about what matters most. Which is mainly not leaving dirty socks on the counter, but also our relationships themselves.
As an adult, and more importantly, a mother, I have seen a seismic shift in how and where I assign value. Don’t get me wrong, I still remember Valentine’s Day is coming up. And I won’t even pretend that I don’t like flowers and pretty things, as self-righteous and sanctimonious as I sometimes act. But I no longer see the presence (or absence) of those things as a measure of my worth or as a sign of how much I am loved.
So this year, I’d like to offer all of you dads out there a list of things moms would really like for Valentine’s Day – from my own perspective. Consider it a cheat sheet for those of you who might be a bit behind on your shopping. You’re welcome.
(Please note: moms love and deserve pampering every day, so this is NOT a get out of jail free card. Just saying.)
First, a Note on Romance in General:
I feel that to really get this going, we need to start with a quick disclaimer. I’m a mom. I have created living, breathing humans using my very own body. I have seen unspeakable horrors. The most romantic thing you could do is develop a sudden and irrefutable attraction to messy hair, ketchup stains, and unshaven legs. Also, my idea of “sexy” these days involves a partner who does their own laundry. So the bar is not high. I just want to be clear. Now…without further ado…
Let’s start with the basics. We all love being told how much we are loved and cards are a great way to express that sentiment. I used to love a card containing a romantic-poem-that-you-would-have written-but-why-bother-because-Hallmark-already-wrote-it-for-you as much as the next girl. But this year, instead of a $7.95 card that leaves glitter all over the living room floor, you know what I want? I want handmade cards from my kids. I want silly drawings and misspelled words that I can keep in my bedside drawer to pull out and remember a time when they still called me “mommy.” Help them create these tiny masterpieces and you’ll have my heart forever.
While I adore flowers, this year, I’m letting dads off the hook. Because as much as I love flowers, you know what I love even more? Time together. Maybe this year instead of dipping into the kids’ college funds to buy a bouquet that is going to be wilted within a week, buy me some flower seeds or bulbs and promise to help me plant them in the spring. Help me make memories and show me that time together matters to you, too. (Also as a side note, “just because” flowers any other day of the year will score you SO many more points. It’s not rocket science, guys…I’m just trying to help you out.)
For the love of all that is holy, DO NOT buy me an expensive box of chocolates. Have you not seen me dieting since Christmas? If you want to spend $50 on something, just give me the cash and tell me to treat myself to something without feeling any guilt. (Also, a bag of Dove chocolates from the grocery store will be just fine. Don’t judge. And by the way, I’m going to need that $50 to buy new jeans that actually fit…so, thanks in advance.)
Sparkly things are nice. There aren’t too many women who would disagree. But, chances are, thanks to old boyfriends and the early years of our relationship with our current partner, we have a jewelry box full of sparkly things. What we want these days are meaningful reminders – that we can wear. For this one, you might need to do a little homework and pre-planning. Find that super cool Etsy shop that will make a necklace with the kids’ names on it. Dig up a site that offers bracelets with GPS coordinates to the site of our first date. Find something that reminds you of me – and if it happens to be sparkly (I mean, it’s ME after all), that’s ok. Just make it meaningful, so that every time I wear it, I remember the richness of my life, not just the price tag on my jewelry.
In case you haven’t noticed, I have been wearing the same yoga pants for three days. I am tired of these yoga pants. I would love to have a reason to put on something nice – or at least clean. A dinner date would be a brilliant way to achieve this goal, but with that being said, “date” can have a lot of meanings. In other words, what I really, truly want is a night off from cooking, but also time with the people I love. I don’t have to be wined and dined at the city’s most expensive restaurant; we can just sit and share our favorite take-out after the kids go to bed. Or hit our favorite “local” with the kids. Just know that it’s not the ambiance, but the company I love. Also, not having to cook. I don’t feel I can stress this enough.
And that’s it. Honestly and truly. Valentine’s Day is not a day that determines our worth, but it is a day where we can make expressing our love a priority. So to all of you dads – and moms – out there, enjoy Valentine’s day. Go ahead and make it special, and remember, it’s not about the money you spend but the love you give – on this day and every day.