Our first Valentines Day together was magic. The one you wait for and dream of.
I had clues stashed all around the city. They were located at all the places where we had made significant memories together. First date, first kiss, you know.
My roommate helped me hide the clues. They were big red hearts taped up with red masking tape. They rhymed.
I had ordered his favorite cologne from Germany. A few other things were wrapped and waiting. He was to scour the city following the clues and end up back at my apartment. Dinner was waiting and so was I.
The wait was unbearable. When you are madly in love with someone every minute apart seems like a million years.
I left the door barely cracked open so he could walk right in. Like in the movies. The clues worked and I can still see him walking through the door. He had on my favorite shirt. It was a pink Polo dress shirt. At 6’4″and 220, you can wear pink.
He already knew. He had know for months. He already knew that we would spend forever together. Up to this point, I didn’t know yet.
I knew that I couldn’t breathe without him, but, on the surface we came from very different places.
On the inside we were the same. Our beliefs, our hopes and dreams, we were the same.
As he walked through the door that night, in that moment, I knew too.
He gave me a big hug and kiss. We ate. And then I gave him his cologne. He still has some left. I bought a big bottle and he uses it sparingly. We can’t ever get any more. When he wears it I am immediately taken back to that night.
Then, he gave me a ring. Not a wedding ring. It wasn’t time for that yet. He didn’t know that I “knew.”
It was a beautiful band for my right hand. Three small sapphire baguettes (his birth stone) separated by two small diamonds. It cost him everything he had. He had scrimped and saved. My graduate professor noticed it the next day at school. Or maybe he noticed the giant smile on my face that I couldn’t erase.
Every Valentines Day that memory comes back. The emotions are still tender and real.
We haven’t had a Valentines Day like it since. (They have all been better.)
No scavenger hunts, no dimmed rooms with waiting packages, no pink Polo shirts.
Now, there are five children. First there was one and we took him with us to Valentines Dinner.
Then there were two so we stayed home and I cooked my husbands favorite meal.
Then came three, four, and five.
We eat a special Valentines Dinner the kids will love and cut hearts out of construction paper. There are countdown chains and glue and tape as we make homemade Valentines to be delivered to classmates. There are sugar cookies with pink frosting and too many sprinkles. And a special reading of the Berenstain Bears “Funny Valentine.” followed by the story of “how mommy and daddy met.”
Everyone gets cards. My husband writes in mine. I wait all year to read what he has to say. He knows that. He is really good with cards.
We finish by 6:30 because bed is at 7:00. Teeth are brushed, stories read, more stories read, and our girls usually sleep with their Valentines next to their pillows.
Then my husband and I work to finish dishes, I do laundry and we hope to go to bed early.
On our way to bed we check on the kids again. We straighten them out and cover them back up. We talk about them while we brush our teeth. We talk about how we will get a sitter in a few days and go out just the two of us. The few days usually turns into a few weeks, but we go. It is always special.
Then as I lay in bed I remember THAT Valentines Day. The first one. I am grateful for it. But just as soon as I remember it, it is gone. New memories flood my mind. I KNOW that every Valentines Day since has been better. They have been different but so much better.
Now I really know Valentines Day. Now I really know love. It is our children’s laughter, the crooked red cut out hearts, the messy faces. It is standing by my husband doing the dishes. It is worrying and praying together about up coming decisions. It is being tired from nursing babies. It is trying to juggle schedules and wipe tears (and bottoms). It is the humility I feel when I realize I can do better. It is my husband running into my pregnant round belly and the laughter I just heard from our daughters crib upstairs.
Valentines Day is every day now.
It is every day I get to be a wife and a mother.
It is every day that I get to make our house a home.
It is everyday as I recognize how much love abounds when two people have committed to be together for eternity.
The gifts are different too. Not so much big, shiny or imported. Not just on Valentines Day.The gifts are the kind things we do for one another each and every day.
It is coming home and seeing that my husband has emptied the dishwasher. It is his hard work in supporting our family. It is his listening ear that he willingly shares, even when I tell him the same concern over and over. It is the toothpaste he puts on my toothbrush at night.
The memories are priceless. But that night in my apartment 11 years ago, I thought I had the Valentines Day of my dreams. Little did I know, the best was yet to come.
Now I know what it is like to have a true Valentine. Void of the commercialism, void of gimmicks. My true Valentine and I have a full house and a busy life. Filled with worries and stresses and joy and laughter.
Most of all, my Valentine and I have every day together, filled with love.
I still can’t breath without him. And every minute apart, seems like a million.
Happy Valentines Day to you and your family. Be sure you are creating your own Valentine’s Day Story.