Last weekend, I bought my husband and kids Valentine’s Day candy and cards, chocolate and shiny red heart reminders that I love them. I do it every year. While perusing the “husband” section of the gift card aisle of Target, I cried as I read the cloying sentiments. I do that every year too. I am a sucker for sappiness, a greeting card company’s dream. But that was not always the case.
In my single life, I stubbornly shrugged off Valentine’s Day. I considered it a Hallmark holiday designed to manipulate consumers into purchasing items they did not need. If a man loved me, I thought, he should tell me, and show me, every day. Even when I was dating someone or in a relationship, Feb. 14 was not a day I deemed worth celebrating.
I still don’t, at least not most of the time. But the thing about being married with children is that sometimes you do need a reminder that you love and are loved. You become so wrapped up in daily life that you forget how and why you wound up there in the first place. If it had not been for the man I loved enough to marry, I would not have two beautiful children. I would not have this life that I so easily and often take for granted.
This year my husband and I are planning a date on Valentine’s Day. I suggested it. We have had a busy few months. Heck, we have had a busy almost 15 years of childrearing. We have not made time for a date night in a while, and I know we need one. No kids, no interruptions, just the two of us remembering who we were when we met and celebrating the life we share. As our children get older, they drift further and further away from us. Soon they will have Valentines of their own, they will head off to college, they will leave us behind. If we do not nurture our relationship now, despite the distractions, it may not be there for us later when we want and need it to be.
I made a lot of bad choices in my twenties, but marrying my husband was not one of them. He is a man who brings me flowers on random days, who tells me I am beautiful when I am wearing pajamas and no makeup, who supports me whether I am right or wrong and even when he does not understand me. Most important, he demonstrates to our almost 13-year-old daughter how a man should treat a woman by the way he treats me. She will have high expectations when she starts dating, as she should, and he is the reason.
I may not celebrate Valentine’s Day next year. It is pretty silly after all. But this year it is my excuse to recognize and appreciate the man I married, my best friend. You know those elderly couples you see walking hand in hand in the park? I know it sounds like another greeting card cliché, but they exist. I have seen them, and I want us to be them one day. I bet they went on lots of dates when their kids were young. Hallmark holiday or not.