Usually, I'm always the one who wants to do something special. Whenever it's a holiday or special occasion, I'm the one that's all for the fancy dinners, fun outings, sweet surprises, etc. I always felt that in order for these occasions to be memorable, we HAD to do something special. And we HAD to take pictures to remember this special occasion. And often, if said occasion didn't quite go as I had pictured in my head, or if I felt like I didn't take enough pictures, or if I felt like we didn't DO enough...I would be left feeling disappointed.
But disappointed by who's standards? My own made-up ones?
Thursday night, I finally had a breakthrough.
You see, Valentines day is usually a big deal to me. Andrew and I started dating on Valentines Day in 2003, as just mere little high schoolers. So since this day sort of symbolizes the beginning of our relationship, it always meant a little more to me than just chocolates and flowers. And because it always meant a little more to me, I always felt like we needed to celebrate it a little more than the average. So over the years, we did just that. We did the dinners out, fancy dinners in, exchanging of gifts...but not just any gifts...super special, creative gifts...like memory boxes with pictures, old ticket stubs and CD's of favorite songs, T-shirt quilts that included shirts that had memories and meanings, jewelry, favorite framed pictures and so on. Basically, I had set this standard in my mind of what this day NEEDED to look like in order for it to be special, since afterall...it marked the beginning of "us".
Well I've realized those standards are dumb. I'm not saying that all those things I mentioned above are dumb. Trust me, I love a good crafty, creative gift, I still enjoy a fancy dinner out every now and then, and romantic dinners in still woo me. But to think that I HAVE to celebrate in a certain way to reach a silly, made up standard is just absurd. And I'm sorry to say it's taken me 10 years to realize it.
I went into Valentines Day with these standards set. I had all these expectations of the day going perfectly: Which included waking up before Andrew to surprise him with heart shaped pancakes that we would eat together at the table before he left for work, meeting him for lunch out as a sweet little family of 3, and having a surprise dinner all ready for him when he got home with his gifts out on the table waiting for him.
Here's the reality. I was awake by 5:30 and couldn't go back to sleep so I was up wayyy earlier than I'm used to. Andrew overslept which meant breakfast was wrapped in tinfoil and sent with him as he ran out the door. As I was leaving to meet him for lunch, we ended up getting into a spat because we couldn't decide on where to eat (ha. typical us...or me, if you know me). I ended up going to 3 different stores until I finally found the Nori sheets that I needed for the heart shaped sushi that I was planning on making him for dinner. And 3 different stores with a 4 1/2 month old in tow meant an errand that would normally take maybe 30 mins took about 2 hours after you include the break to nurse in the Target dressing room, the diaper change in the bathroom, the constant consoling of the fussy baby who was overdue for a nap and the forever it feels like it takes to load baby in and out of the car each time (have I mentioned how much of a pain I find car seats to be when it comes to inserting/removing a baby??). This in turn caused dinner to be behind, which meant by the time Andrew got home...I hadn't even started on it yet. So much for dinner being a surprise! So he played with Addy while I made sushi. Which I finally finished making at around 7pm. By this time, I was EXHAUSTED (Why again, was I up at 5:30am?) So exhausted, that I felt like I had been hit by a truck. And to top it off, I was so tired, that I wasn't even hungry anymore. So while Andrew enjoyed his heart shaped sushi, I decided to go lay down on the couch. Next thing I know, Andrew woke me up at midnight telling me to come upstairs to bed.
WHAT!? How in the world did I fall asleep for that long? But there was still food to be put away, dishes to be washed, tidying up to do and a baby to bathe, feed and put to bed.
It.was.all.done. My sweet Valentine of 10 years took care of ALL of it and let me sleep.
My husband gifted me with service and sleep this year for Valentines Day. And friends, let me tell you...that gift could not have been any more perfect for this mama's heart and soul right now. When I woke up and realized that all the usual things I take care of were already taken care of for me (while I slept, mind you!) without me even having to ask...I felt like I had just been gifted the best.gift.ever.
As I climbed into bed, I suddenly realized that I was OKAY with how the day went, even if it never matched up with the way I had it planned out in my head. I was OKAY with the fact that I only snapped 2 photos of the day with my iPhone. I was OKAY that the day did not match up to my silly made up standards. Because thats exactly what those standards are. Silly.
Instead, this Valentines Day may have been my favorite one yet. Because it was real. And normal. And perfect for us. Or at least the new "us" as a family of 3 :)
I kissed my husband goodnight, told him I loved him, rolled over, closed my eyes, and thanked God for giving me such a wonderful husband who loves his wife and daughter SO well. And for letting me grasp how wonderful this new normal of life really is.