After spending hours ripping apart paper thin valentines, putting together glitter tattoos and candy and then painstakingly watching my 6-year-old daughter write her name on every single one of the Valentines, what I want to do most is to ditch my kid on Valentine's Day and have an adult night out with my husband.
We have one child who we adore and love more than everything. Each Valentine's Day we make her a basket of goodies. This year, the theme is unicorns and Jojo Siwa. Our daughter loves it and she truly think of this Hallmark holiday as a day of showing people you care about how much you love them and getting candy, which is what a 6-year-old should be thinking.
I, on the other hand, think it is the perfect opportunity to overspend on a nice dinner with my husband — without our kid. He is also someone I love and want to spend that special day with. But it's obviously a different kind of love than I have for my daughter. For us, more dates nights alone is the key to a successful marriage.
Our daughter understands that we show her love every day, 365 days a year. One day off does not change how we feel for her.
There is nothing wrong with spending Valentine's Day as a family. My family did it one year. We had a picnic at a park. It was nice but not the romantic time I had hoped for with my husband. Somehow having my daughter running around screaming and constantly wanting my attention wasn't a great turn-on.
If you don't not have the luxury of having someone watch their child to have a date night out, that is understandable. But if the opportunity is there, I say take it.
From then on, my husband and I decided to have Valentine's Day be about us. It's not like we get a lot of time to ourselves amid working two jobs, getting our daughter to and from school, and handling the random challenges that get thrown our way.
The best part about our mom-and-dad Valentine's Day is that our kid does not even notice. She doesn't ask, "Why don't you take me along?" She is content with staying over at our friend's house. Our daughter understands that we show her love every day, 365 days a year. One day off does not change how we feel for her.
My husband and I don't feel guilty about going out alone on Valentine's Day either. We anticipate the few hours we get alone, which does not happen too often anymore. Even when we give each other a simple kiss all we hear in the background is our kid saying, "Ewww."
I remember one particular date night we had dinner then went to Target afterwards (because a date night is not complete without a trip to Target). There, I told my husband, "I feel like we get along better when it is just us." He smiled in agreement.
And we don't limit our alone time for just Valentine's Day. Since our daughter was born, we take vacations every year with just the two of us to places like Las Vegas that seem built for couples without kids. It is typically only for a few days, but we know our daughter is in good hands with friends and family. Most of the time she is having too much fun to worry about us being away.
Don't get me wrong. When my husband and I are on vacation without our daughter, I still call and constantly check to see how she is doing. But being away from her makes me feel like a youthful adult again. My husband and I can sit at a restaurant and have a few cocktails without worrying about what time it is. We can talk about anything without worrying about what little ears may be listening.
Our daughter does say she misses us when we don't include her, but we also tell her we miss her too and just because we enjoy mommy and daddy time alone sometimes doesn't mean we love her any less. The older she gets the more she understands this.
Before our daughter arrived, it was my husband and I first. This year is our twelfth anniversary. Life gets in the way of meaningful relationships. It is easy for a couple, especially with a kid, to stop and acknowledge one another. A simple "How was your day?" turns into "Did you remember to sign the permission slip for tomorrow's field trip?"
This Valentine's Day, when my husband and I are out alone and we gaze into each other's eyes over a glass of wine (and his pint of beer), I won't be thinking of my kid. I'll be thinking about the ups and downs my husband and I have been through to get to this rare romantic moment.