When my husband inquired what I desired for Valentine’s Day, I answered before he was done asking, “a very long, hot, uninterrupted shower,” his eyes grew wide and I finished — “ALONE!”
We fortunate ones have been gifted jewelry, beautiful clothes we never wear, we even have brand new surf boards and golf clubs from our husbands’ “giving gifts they wanted for themselves” phase. Like many mothers, we are at the stage in life where we long for simple and non-material pleasures. But we weren’t always that way.
I call our single and working life the selfish years. It was a journey of self-discovery. We were eager to explore our careers, our style, our interests, our causes, our friends, our social life, etc. That gave us our very long yet rewarding work weeks, our unforgettable trips, our new found hobbies, our charity fundraisers, our lifelong friendships, oh yeah and our many chocolate martini hangovers (we could have done without that part). This was a healthy process and one for which we are grateful but the focus was solely on us. Valentine’s Day during this time was often a spontaneous girl’s night out which evolved into a Tequila-sponsored dance party followed by a greasy recap brunch at the local diner. We were open to committed relationships but were too distracted by our need to blossom on our own.
For many of us, our lovely husbands yanked us from this narcissistic fog and together we embarked on the building phase of life; building our careers, building a lasting marriage, building up the family’s (our) cooking skills, working on our (their) golf game, and building a nest (find a house and fill it up to perfection). We were trying to construct a stable foundation to raise a family. Valentine’s Day was now full of extravagant gifts, romantic getaways and long mushy cards. We soaked up all of the undivided adoration and reciprocated with delight.
The next phase of motherhood is best characterized by of course survival but mostly simplicity. This also translates to our aspirations for Valentine’s Day. Through our children’s eyes we are rediscovering the beauty of everyday life; waves crashing, the thrill of cement trucks passing by and even the progression of our children walking and talking blows us away.
With just a few hours left for our better halves to scramble, kindly step away from the carnations at the grocery store and read the following suggestions:
Anything made with your hands; a card, dinner or foot rubs will do.
A recording of our children’s infectious giggle (the kind you just want to bottle).
Evidence that whatever gift we are about to receive was purchased prior to February 14th (a witness or receipt is recommended).
A call to your beloved mother-in-law to tell her how lucky you are to be married to her daughter. (Feel free to insert flattery, an apology or invitation for extra credit.)
An interpretive dance to express your adulation. (OK, scratch that.)
Your laundry services: please note that this entails more than placing clothes into the washer- includes pick up of wet towels from our bed, drying clothes, pairing of socks and lastly making the long trek from the laundry room to your drawers.
A redeemable coupon for 10 hours of uninterrupted Food Network viewing or showering without an audience. (I meant kids and pets – get your mind out of the gutter!)
You see, dear husbands, our desires are simple; we yearn effort and your soul. Happy Valentine’s Day–we love you!
Vanessa McCafferty lives in Manhattan Beach, California with her husband Colin, her son Nolan (17 months), and her mini Goldendoodle, Birdie (2).