It's 4pm and I'm well aware that within 10 minutes the quiet in the house will be replaced with jostling story-telling children leaving wet boots, snowpants and all manner of miscellaneous accoutrements all over the used-to-be-clean mud room floor. They will be competing with each other to tell me the latest and most amazing parts of their day (or tattling on each other) and in doing so, I guarantee that a fist-fight will almost break out in their haste to beat the other to the best parts of their day.
I know this will happen. It always does - in a Groundhog Day sort of way. No matter how many times I sit them each down and give them separate time to talk to me, they feel they've got to push their way to the front and be first.
So the best part of my day comes when I see my tall man fill the back entry. The cavalry has arrived! He wraps me in his giant hug and I'm taken back to our 3 months of dating. He gave me a hug every time he came to pick me up to bring me back to Michigan. His soft flannel shirts and his musky deodorant and Dove soap combined to sear my memory with the smell of "home". He is and will always be my home. Even though, I'm physically standing in our house with our three little people clamoring for our attention (at that very second trying to push us apart as we stand together)... I am satisfied knowing my best friend is with me so I am home.
With tomorrow being V-day, this love and marriage stuff is on my mind. I've come to the conclusion that Valentine's Day is quite honestly a horrible day. I know, I know, I can almost see your fist full of candy hearts ready to toss at me... but hear me out.
It sets up husbands with unrealistic expectations. Then it gives wives a rotten rollercoaster ride. Is he gonna remember what day it is?? Maybe! Maybe he's got a secret getaway planned for us!! Then she tells herself that whatever happens will be fine. But she knows it really won't be. On the flip side for the hubbys, it almost gives them a get-out-of-jail-free card. If they can nail a seriously romantic Valentine's Day, they've got brownie points saved up for a rainy day. Who cares about doing the stuff around the house she needs done every day: help with homework while she gets dinner ready, connect and listen to the kids when a game is on, wrestle with those crazy balls of energy when the Xbox is calling his name... why bother?! "She's good because I took her out and wow'd her."
The Every Day Valentine's Day is completely lost with that kind of idea and obligatory compulsion we place on our men.
What is the Every Day V-day, you ask?! Let me tell you!
It's the man who puts in a couple loads of laundry just because. He makes sure my van has good safe tires and is properly maintained. He even cleans a toilet or two. He takes care of his mom by starting her car just before she leaves so she can get in a warm vehicle. He bathes the three dirty monsters while I finish cleaning up after dinner. He always finishes whatever project/work stuff he's got going by 9pm so we can sit together and talk. That same man will give a "hog back ride" to all who wish one on their way to bed. (We don't have a piggy in our house; we have a hog. When Jonny was little, he'd stand at the top of the stairs and holler "Hey HOG!" so he could get his ride!) He makes the best coffee every. blessed. morning! He listens to me. Even when I don't make sense. He encourages me to enjoy the moment and laugh in the crazy. He prays with each child every night and tells them a story or sings them a silly song from his imagination. He makes sure my debit card has enough for our needs. He gets excited over my good deals. It is the simple. The daily.
As all marriages can attest, sometimes it doesn't 'feel' romantic and all that jazz. But it's not just candlelight and roses and quiet dinners that rates (or should rate) on the romantic scale but doing life together... diapers, laundry, work, frustrations, kids, family, love, honesty. That's true romance.
It's hard work to be intentional; not allowing electronics and time to creep up on you but creating that space for talk. Date nights out don't happen every month like I would prefer, but we have time every single night that we sit together and talk. We talk about life outside of kids and we talk about kids: Can you believe the House raised the debt ceiling?! Did I tell you what Jonny said?? (He was frustrated with something and said,"oBAMA!" Then looked up at me and said, "That's a bad word isn't it, Mommy?" He thinks anything you say in frustration is a bad word. By that point, I was laughing so hard!!!!) Crazy what damage a sinkhole can do when it's under the National Corvette Museum! What IS Billy Ray Cyrus thinking bringing back that insane song Miley style?! Yeesh! I tell him about the Common Core curriculum and Matt Walsh's blog... and all the crazy FB thread comments and we land with thankfulness for our wonderful ZPS and West Michigan bubble.
Sometimes it is simply laughing; inside jokes and sideways glances and even body noises! He has always said you have to be able to laugh when your spouse lets one rip. :) At dinner, it starts with one of the kids (usually Jonny the Ham) doing/saying something bizarre and then I find myself laughing. They keep laughing so I laugh harder until it's just one big Laugh Fest! Laughter truly keeps balance in the middle of a dinner with particular palates and a frustrated cook.
One of my favorite things in the whole world is looking across the table at my best friend and catching his eye knowing we're in this together. Absolutely nothing beats it! No romantic weekend (however nice) beats out the day to day shoulder-to-shoulder blood sweat and tears of life together. We have each other's back and that's a good start to our future.
So, let's take Valentine's Day off *our* calendar and remember the Every Day V-day. :)
It's better for your marriage!