Sunday night, Chris and I went out to dinner for an early Valentine’s Day. We tried a sushi place for the first time and we were not disappointed. I think I ate my baby weight in sushi (only the cooked fish though – don’t worry!). It was delicious. We hadn’t had good sushi since we moved from Connecticut and though this place was worlds different than the hole-in-the-wall place we used to go to up there, the sushi was every bit as good and it was nice to feel like we had found one more thing down here that felt like home.
Only, there was a little hiccup in our romantic dinner.
We finished appetizers and six rolls of sushi in about 15 minutes. Seriously. We were seated, ordered, ate, and paid the bill in 20 minutes. When the check came to the table, Chris checked his watch and died laughing.
“What are we going to do now? We can’t go home yet. We just left.”
“I know. But we don’t really have the money to go do anything else.”
“Yeah,” said Chris. “And I really want to see the Grammy’s.”
“Good, cause I really want to read my book,” I said.
On the ride home, Chris and I tried to figure out how our romantic Valentine’s dinner had been so quick. We decided it was because when we go out to dinner normally with Bean, we have to hurry because we have approximately 15 or 20 minutes before he starts getting fidgety and antsy. So, we’re just in the habit of eating quick. It’s a necessity. Which is great, unless it’s Valentine’s Day and you’re trying to spend some quality time with your husband.
Then today in one of my classes, a student asked me what Chris had given me for Valentine’s Day. I looked around me at the room full of hopeful middle school students, all holding their teddy bears and roses and love letters and candy from significant others that they truly believe are the people they will spend the rest of their lives with. Their eyes looked at me with a romantic, whispy look that said, “Isn’t love awesome?”
“Uh…” I studdered, trying to decide if I should lie or be honest. I went with honesty. “He got me a SunPass.”
Total silence in the room.
And then from the back, some poor, lovesick 12-year-old girl quietly asked, “Is that what happens when you get married?”
Not wanting to burst their little pink and red heart-shaped bubbles, I quickly recovered with, “But he bought me a dozen roses and a sweet card, too!”
(That’s a total lie, by the way.)
They seemed to collectively sigh with relief and the happy hum of a classroom full of puppy love middle schoolers resumed.
Yes, it’s true. Chris got me a SunPass for Valentine’s Day. But it’s what I wanted!
Which begs the question…What the heck is wrong with us?!?! We finally – FINALLY – get time away for a romantic dinner together and we’re home in less than an hour. And we’re giving each other things like toll money for gifts. What the heck is going on? Don’t you think those things should raise some red flags about the state of our marriage?
I was a little worried about it until today. Monday. The Real Valentine’s Day. Around 10:30 this morning, I got an email from Chris at work. All it said was, “I can’t stop thinking about you today and how much I love you and our life together. Just wanted you to know.” I think I giggled like my students for about 2 hours and I must have re-read the email about a million times.
And then tonight, I came home and made a Valentine’s Dinner for Chris and Bean. On our romantic menu? Spaghetti and meatballs. Bean’s favorite.
And cucumbers in vinegar. Chris’s favorite.
I set the table with all the Valentine goodies the two of them had for the day. Cards from different family members, art projects that Bean had made at school during his Valentine’s Day party, cute little notes and odds and ends that people have sent us to tell us we are loved.
And while I finished cooking and dishing up dinner, the two of them got to sit in their seats and open all their goodies. We laughed and talked and made Bean sing the “I Love You” song over and over again. Finally, dinner was on the table and we all ate together, talking about our days and listening to Bean babble on about…well, we’re not really sure…
After dinner, we all helped put away dishes and clean up the kitchen. Which wore Bean out and so he laid down on the counter and talked to us while we cleaned.
So, Valentine’s Day was pretty much like any other day in our house. Except we all had candy. And you know what? It was one of my favorite Valentine’s Days yet. True, it was very different than past, over the top, romantic Valentine’s Days. True, there were no flowers or stuffed animals. But there was lots of love. You could feel it in our house. And that meant more to me than any dinner out or any gift Chris might have given me.
Marriage changes things. Kids change things. But those changes are sometimes the things in life that are so good, you didn’t even know to ask for them because you didn’t even know that kind of happiness was possible. That’s the change that marriage and children bring to my life. And not just on Valentine’s Day. Every day I find things in my life that are simpler, different, and worlds better than I could have even imagined.
Today I am grateful for sundresses!