I have a confession, and I think its shared by many. I think Valentines day is dumb. I know, I know, we are supposed to be showering our love with love and chocolate and on and on and its good to take a day to remember why we love them and show our appreciation etc. I get this. But heres my 2 cents. And please bear in mind, it really is only 2 cents. I am undereducated, over caffeinated, on very few carbs and usually have no idea what I'm talking about, so please don't take offense if you disagree.
I think Valentines Day was set up by hallmark to basically generate more revenue and there has become so many expectations and disappointments associated with this holiday that I don't even know where to start. So lets start at the beginning. High School. I went to a small high school, we only had about 32 people in grades 7-12, so everyone dated everyone else and Valentines Day was a big deal. Flowers and balloons and cards were sent to the school and passed out and put on lockers and made girls giddy. But there was a few girls who weren't popular, were always picked last in gym class, didn't do sports or drink, and were therefore totally ignored on Valentines Day. Every year. So imagine having 3 girls in one class and maybe 15 in the whole school and there's a row of lockers that are covered in balloons, hearts, and flowers, but then there's that one little obvious empty locker with nothing on it. I think you can guess who that girl was. ;)
Now I don't blame the boys (I was a nerd) but I did start hating Valentines day. I remember one year, about a junior I think, where I came up with this elaborate plan to send Valentines to myself from an anonymous suitor to deceive everyone into thinking I actually had someone who liked me and I tried to get my mom or brother to come in early and decorate my locker. But my mom thought that was dishonest and my brother wanted nothing to do with it, so that didn't work. So thus began my deep sated battle with valentines.
Because of this, by the time I did get my fist suitor at the ripe old age of 20, I had so many pent up frustrations and delusions about Valentines Day that I wanted the works! After spending all my teens never receiving flowers for Valentines Day, I was ready. Like a cannon ready to explode ready. My poor boyfriend had no idea, so when it fell short of my long dreamt expectations, it not only wrecked my day, but his as well. I wish I could apologize to him now, not only did he have the shocking misfortune to date a girl who had never been kissed at age 20, but she also expected to be blown away on Valentines day. Immaturity and Insecurity raising its ugly head.
Well to shorten this up a bit, I went several years and well into my marriage with some expectations that weren't getting met and I couldn't figure out why. Then I realized, we can all blame the big H's. Hallmark and Hollywood. In the romantic movies we see these big grand gestures, exotic surprise trips, fancy wine and dines, big gestures, big moments and on and on. Its glamorous, expensive and totally and completely unrealistic. Romance is nothing like the movies or the books or the ads. I know you know this, but sometimes we need a reminder, because I think we are giving all these young people completely unrealistic ideals about love and romance.
My poor husband was just desperately trying every VDay or birthday or anniversary to scramble and figure out exactly what it was that Heather wanted. We didn't have a lot of money, we were young and struggling, (versus our now old and struggling) and although he loved me beyond all belief and tried so hard, I was almost always disappointed. No I didn't want red roses, everyone did that. No I didn't want chocolates, I hate chocolate. No I don't want a vacuum, just cause I vacuum everyday, doesn't mean I LIKE it, No I don't want a blender, just cause I cook everyday, doesn't mean I LIKE IT and so on and so forth and Valentines always ended badly.
But then, as inevitably happens, I started growing up a bit. And I'm no expert at marriage, we've only been married 17 years, but we've had a very good marriage, so this is my thoughts. LOWER your expectations. These poor men, they stand at the card section trying to desperately pick the 'perfect' card, they go to the florists trying desperately to pick the 'perfect' flowers, they walk up and down the aisle trying desperately to pick the perfect present. They are full of trepidation and nervousness, trying to get it just right. And why are they doing this? Why?
BECAUSE HALLMARK TOLD THEM TOO!! This isn't a spontaneous gift from the heart, this is them being pressured by Hallmark to do something mainstream and they are stressed, confused and bewildered by what they are supposed to be doing. They are not worried about what THEY are getting (like we are) they could care less, they just want to make sure not to mess up. I mean can we all just take a second and appreciate all these awesome selfless men that do this every year, who just want to skate past this silly holiday relatively unharmed?
But guess what, they don't know what we want. Heck, I don't even know what I want! It changes by the hour and yet I expect him to know this? You know what's so much better? Real spontaneous gestures of love that come from their heart. Not generated by a date, but by a moment. So here's what I think real love is and how its showed.
Real love is a man who comes home to his wife and kids every night, not cause its an obligation, but because he loves too. Who never misses a supper with them, who never misses a recital or concert or game. Who drives all night from the oilfields of ND to MT with no sleep for 48 hours, to surprise his wife on their anniversary. Who builds goat feeders, fences, chicken coops, gardens, turkey runs, kidding pens and all assortment of things he doesn't understand or care about, to make his wife happy. Who holds her hand when she's in labor and tells her she's beautiful and amazing. Who cleans her up gently afterwards and has to do things no man should ever have to do in the postpartum recovery period. Who leaves in the middle of the night to run to the store for anything. Who cleans up more vomit in 5 sessions of morning sickness, that anyone should ever have to in their lifetime. Who adores her and is attracted to her even though she still looks 6 months pregnant when the baby is 6 months old.
One who is always there. Always tells you he loves you and appreciates you and thanks you for your amazing cooking and tells you your beautiful, all the time. He shows appreciation and love in everything he does and always puts your needs before his own, who works long hard days, every day, in rain or shine, to make sure you are provided for and taken care of. He would love to shower you with diamonds or take you to Paris, but folks, that just isn't realistic. Maybe in the movies, but in the REAL WOLRD, he's just a hard working man doing the best he can. Let him shower you with dirty clothes and stinky socks instead and never begrudge him for it, cause that sweat was for his family.
We all see those men who shower their wives with roses and diamonds and trips, but they are NEVER home. They think throwing some pretty flowers at their wife will make up for never seeing them, never complimenting them, never rubbing their back when they are so pregnant they can't even walk. I will take the hard working middle class man who is always there, over the rich executive who never is. I will go with less money and more time. Please don't work long hours just to buy more things, work less hours and do more things with me. Don't stress about some dumb holiday, just come home and hold me and make me laugh. Cheer me up, play with our kids, read them a book, help them make a oversized Robot Valentine box. Every single day you are here, your checked in, your involved, and I am a lucky lucky Valentine. Thats the real love, not the hallmark generated love.
So ladies, if you are disappointed in your cheap chocolates, but have a husband like this, please thank your lucky stars and when he comes home, thank him. They aren't magicians who can read our minds, but they are good men who love us. I love doing Valentines with my kids and making heart shaped cakes and all sorts of fun Valentine things. I'm not totally against this holiday, I just think its been misconstrued and abused.
This doesn't mean the men who do all these things are doing it the for the wrong reasons. There are lots of very romantic men out there who love the holiday and I love that. This is more our personal experience, my husband is not this way, at all. So this is for all the ones who have a man more like mine. This morning he brought the girls each roses and me a plant, but I know it was from the heart, because he loves to make them feel special and kids do love their holidays! But the pressure is now off him, so when he does do something, its fun for him (i think, who knows) and not a burden. And I will always appreciate flowers, I don't care if they were generated by Hallmark or not. Thats not my point, my point is to never make your Valentine feel inadequate regardless of what he does, or doesn't do. Appreciate it, even if it is all dark chocolate and you secretly hate it.
And for all you girl who have empty lockers year after year, your time is going to come. You just hold out for that one amazing Valentine. Cause you know what, you don't need a bunch of them, you only need one. In the case of love and dating, quantity will never trump quality. Rye is only the second man I ever dated, and I never needed anymore than that. Just wait for him. Don't give your heart or your body out to some boy, wait for THE boy. Because I promise you, hes out there. He may not look like Zac Efron or Gerard Butler (snicker snicker) but he's going to have WAY more staying power and heart.
Please don't make a date on the calendar make you show your love. Show it everyday in all the small gestures that come from the heart and mean something. Don't put guilt on them, don't make them feel inadequate, cause they aren't and then you are the one not showing love. Love isn't a gift, or a bouquet of flowers, anyone can do that. LOVE is an ACTION. Always.
When I do get a Valentine (this is very rare) its usually a homemade card that he drew and wrote on and NO hallmark card in the WORLD could ever beat that. So take that Hallmark. And Hollywood.
And I'm not gonna lie. I was a teeny bit disappointed to not even receive a card on our anniversary. I do appreciate a little something on our Anniversary cause I am still a woman. Which means I do like gifts. I'm also including this in here just in case he's reading this blog post and thinks he's COMPLETELY off the hook. Cause you aint, Mr.T. Its never to late to get my something for putting up with all your love for 17 years.