I used to enjoy a romantic holiday with my partner, however commercial, expensive, and ridiculous it might seem. Yes, I totally get that it's not even about love, or whatever, but about how extravagant and outrageous you can display affection towards your one and only. Still, I'm a romantic at heart and would be lying if I said I don't want any part of it. Then I remember all the ways having a kid has ruined Valentine's Day every single year they've been alive.
Before kids, my partner of 13 years and I would go to a lavish restaurant all dressed up in clothes I'd never wear again. He'd buy me flowers that would die and candy I'd eat too fast and maybe he'd scribble his name in a card he didn't even read through. It was all so robotic and tired but, again, I was a fool for any piece of it. Sure, I loved when he did these things on other days, too (though he rarely did), but something about the expectation of the holiday, like a birthday or wedding, made it feel like he had to do something. I mean, he couldn't forget to make me feel like a Queen on this scheduled day, right?
Spoiler alert: he forgot. Often.
The first February we spent as a couple, he spent it with his mom and grandmother while I waited and waited (and waited). I cried for hours and didn't speak to him the whole next day. Because we lived together, we had to figure it out or, if you're like me, drag it out for (basically) ever and bring it up every change you get because grudges. We decided he was pretty awful at being a new boyfriend and holidays and, well, most things at the time but looking back, I was equally to blame (don't tell him I said so). Once we got past the first, Valentine's Day was kind of glorious! Yay for romance!
Then, I got pregnant.
After children, it became a whole different ballgame. Literally. We'd go to a ballgame instead of dancing the night away somewhere swoon-worthy. We went from those fancy dinners we couldn't really afford to fast food, and live flowers traded for kids' school fees. It wasn't all because we didn't want to make time as a couple, it just wasn't always an option or realistic or remotely appealing after a long day with the kids.
Looking back, I guess Valentine's Day wasn't that bad before kids. In fact, I find myself reminiscing, whining about how it'll never be that way again (like now). Oh, to be young, wild, and free with a whole box of candy I don't have to share. Ah-hem.
We No Longer Go Out For A Nice Dinner
Dinners then consisted of an overpriced menu that tasted as expensive as it was described, in wedding attire (obviously), clinking champagne glasses. We'd leave dinner and do something, I don't know, romantic, only to fall into each other's arms and sleep until late the next morning.
Now? Please. If we're eating, it's because I'm cooking my ass off in a hot kitchen with an oven that doesn't always work right. I usually burn food, so there's that, which the kids will refuse to eat and will, in turn, create arguments that I'll deal with by crying in the bathtub. And as for alcohol, my partner will have a beer while I put the kids to bed. After all that excitement, I fall asleep in my dowdy bathrobe. It's a sexy display. Jealous?
I Have To Share My Candy
There's a local coffee and candy shop through these parts I frequent. Though, I save buying candy for special occasions because it's pricier than grocery store stuff. On the off-chance my partner buys me a nice box of assorted chocolates, he doesn't make it two feet in the door without my kids asking for some.
Last year, my youngest brought me a smaller box of candy and asked me to be his Valentine. When I gasped and swooned and said "yes!" he took the candy back and said, "OK, I'll have this then." Well played, son. Well played.
My Kids Make Better Cards Than My Partner
My partner's never been the best card-buyer. He usually picks out something generic like "you're a great pal" and signs his name with nothing sentimental added. A few times he's written love notes, leaving them by my morning coffee. When I look inside, there's almost always an inappropriate drawing or string of sentences he could've left out. Last year (which seems to have been a record year for this stuff), he wrote, "Sorry I'm so fat."
My kids, on the other hand, come home with the most thoughtful things. And detailed! They pour their little hearts into everything they give me. Just recently, my son made a necklace with colored beads on it. He said he picked purple because he knew how much I like that color — things my partner doesn't know about me! My daughter crafted a rubber band figure of a girl that resembled me. It took hours to make. This is dedication!
It probably makes my partner feel like a tool for not putting in more effort but, hey: he's still a "great pal."
I Have No Expectations Now
I used to look forward to days I knew my partner and I could celebrate our love, or whatever. It was simple and beautiful and — gross, I know. After all this time and two kids later, while of course we still love each other, I legit have no expectations. The worst part? He knows. So basically if anything extra happens outside of my usual daily routine, it'll be a win. A lot sure has changed since we first started dating.
I'm Too Tired For Romance
Back in the day, my partner and I could throw down all night long at a bar or club or where-the-hell-ever we felt like! The freedom of it just being the two of us left a lot of options open. It was fun and carefree.
Since children, uh, no? By the time I've done the mom thing all day (and have stains on my clothes, my hair's a mess, and zero desire to fix any of it) I don't care if it's Valentine's Day or a random Friday. I'm tired and I'm going to bed.
Alone Time, And Babysitters, Are Hard To Come By
When you don't yet have kids, it's so easy to take the simple things for granted such as coming and going as you damn well please. Once the babies rolled out, we had to seek out babysitters to have an ounce of time not devoted to them. It was hard and to be honest, hasn't gotten any easier now that they're older because they're only more inquisitive ("but why did you have the bedroom door locked?").
Gifts Now Come In The Form Of Children's Toys
Not that I've ever gotten V-Day gifts, or necessarily wanted any, those times I had wouldn't have consisted of a new Captain America shield or iTunes purchase so my kids don't feel left out. Whatever it was would've been mine; all mine.
Of course I say all this in jest because the truth is, it doesn't matter what holiday it is — I love my kids. Now that we're parents, I can't even imagine having all the dinners with no babies to go home to, enjoying endless couple time without little hands to pull us a part, or getting a whole box of chocolates to myself and honestly, wouldn't want to (but can I at least pick first?).