“Clowns to the left of me.
Jokers to the right.
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.”
This lyric right here is my theme for Valentine’s Day this year. When you are married with children, life resides on a scale of “they are so sweet when they’re sleeping” to “OK, how many kids did we leave the house with? Because now there is only one”. With three children, it is rare that someone isn’t in need of something and when you are being pulled in numerous directions it is grounding and comforting to have a person in the trenches with you. Someone who partakes in life beside you, however it comes. Love changes as we get older and, to me, it is our actions within the day-to-day that truly express love. And so, when Valentine’s Day comes around, I find that the recognition of one another in our relationship is usually short and laced with sarcasm because taking one day to ensure your partner knows they’re loved seems insufficient and forced. It’s probably the one day out of the year my husband and I don’t have expectations on being seen, important and cared for. Because married love isn’t about this one seemingly romantic day. It’s about the other 364 days of the year.
I’m not saying I’m anti-Valentine’s Day (some cinnamon hearts could always make this girl’s day) but I’ve never quite gotten on board with the high expectations and seemingly inevitable disappointment that follows. One year I remember teasing Ian because he didn’t get me anything. On his way home, he stopped at a flower stand by our house and picked up a bouquet. When he got them inside the house he realized they were plastic. I laughed so hard, I cried. That is my kind of Valentine’s Day – where flowers can be last minute and fake but still result in a happy memory because it isn’t the only day of the year to be loved.
I think it’s easy to forget what love looks like in the midst of everyday life. Romance is a clean kitchen, empty laundry baskets and sleeping children. It’s telling your partner to take a break simply because you know they need one. It’s a quick kiss on the cheek before ferrying children out the door and it’s turning around when you’re already half way home from the store because she calls you with a last-minute addition to your list. It’s getting through the busy, messy and unpredictable together. And through all of the chaos and all of the exhaustion, it’s being able to fall into bed at the end of the day and still see the person you fell in love with. It’s having sex when you’re tired, laughing when you’re mad and smiling over at him while you snuggle children instead of each other. It’s about finding a relationship worth sustaining when life is mayhem.
As for Valentine’s Day here, this is it. This photo. There is nobody else I would rather be stuck in the middle of all of this with. 15 years, 3 kids and a whole lot of life later, I am still completely in love with this man. He is a man of few words and while he may lack the ability to articulate how he feels all of the time, he never fails to show me. On the other hand, I am a woman of many words and sometimes think I should talk less and show more. Somehow we make it work and can still fall into bed at the end of the day and see the person we fell in love with. Give me everyday-love over Valentine’s Day love any day of the year.