ROMANTIC: Marked by the emotional appeal of what is heroic, adventurous, remote, mysterious, or idealized
Valentine’s Day has changed for me over the years. In high school, I dated a kind but practical boy and spent the days leading up to Valentine’s Day praying he would remember to make a token romantic gesture – preferably one that would be visible and fragrant as I walked down the hall. In college, Valentine’s Day was mostly a reminder that I was single. Some years I wallowed; others I adopted an “I’m too cool for Hallmark holidays” mantra. Post-college dating involved a high maintenance boy and fancy galas that required formal dresses and up-dos. Valentine’s improved once I met Husband. My favorite was the one where he narrowly missed a cavity search when he stumbled over the question “Are you bringing any gifts into Canada?” Husband finally stammered, “I have some chocolates.” Turns out he was actually smuggling a diamond and a proposal into the country.
Valentine’s Day is nice. It’s a chance to give and receive flowers and chocolates, a chance to write and read loving words in greeting cards. However, it’s not necessarily all that romantic. I think it’s the obligatory nature that robs it of the romance. Of the romantic moments that stand out in my life and marriage, very few are related to February 14th. In fact, the same gestures that carry a sense of obligation (a bouquet of flowers, for example) on Valentine’s Day have a much greater impact on a random day in October or June.
Last night, I tried to incorporate elements of a traditional Valentine’s Day. I lit candles, decorated with rose petals, and fixed a fancy dinner. Son was surprised when Husband was the only one who arrived for dinner. In his experience, feverish cleaning and candles on the dinner table have always been associated with guests. Our dinner was sweet and delicious, but it didn’t necessarily feel romantic. It felt more like introducing the kids to a charming cultural tradition. And, let’s be honest, debating with kids over how many bites of dinner they need to eat before they are eligible for dessert can kill the mood.
I like bling and flowers. But, these days romance is less about velvet boxes and florist deliveries and more about feeling appreciated and being reminded that I am more than a mother. Sometimes it’s something simple like Husband doing the dishes or taking the kids to the park when they’re rowdy. Sometimes it’s something grand, like when Husband arranges a weekend of childcare and plans a get-away for the two of us.
Yes, we managed to have a candlelight dinner (for four) last night on a table set with red roses and cloth napkins. However, Husband’s offer to take the kids to Pajama Story Time while I watched a chick-flick was every bit as lovely.