Romance Redefined

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Ah, the day of red and pink. Chocolates. Roses. Candlelight dinners. Walks on the beach. Cupid. The day when we think of those we love. The day we secretly hope our significant other dotes on us and secretly outdoes our neighbor's significant other so we can feel like we belong in a Hallmark commercial or a Kay Jewelers commercial for just a moment. The day we awkwardly hug our single friends and then ask them if they can babysit for us if they aren't busy. The day we can make our husbands watch Sleepless in Seattle one more time without too much groaning.

The day of love and lovers.

Truth be told, I love Valentine's Day. It's corny, it's cliche, it's commercialized...I know. But, there is still something lovely and simplistic about an entire day devoted to stopping and thinking of someone else and making sure you've let them know how special they are to you. And, while it is nice to tell your mom, your brother, or your neighbor down the street "Happy Valentine's Day"...let's face, today is really about focusing on your spouse or significant other. In a word, (like it or not) today is about ROMANCE.

Main Entry: 1ro·mance
Pronunciation: romacr-primarystressman(t)s, primarystressromacr-secondarystressman(t)s
Function: noun
1 a : an old tale of knights and noble ladies b : an adventure story c : a love story
3 : an attraction or appeal to one's feelings

The definition of romance has certainly changed for me over the years. I will never forget Valentine's Day in grade school. We would spend hours throughout the week leading up to February 14th constructing our little Valentine boxes that we would place on our desks. White, pink and red construction paper, markers, colored pencils, glue sticks and glitter would scatter across the classroom as each of us put together a little mailbox of sorts that would be ready for the big day.

Then, on Valentine's Day, we'd fill ourselves with conversation hearts, play some kind of "Valentine Bingo" or another silly game, and pass out our Valentine's! You remember - most were the little cardstock kind with your favorite cartoon character, with perforated edges and a little place to sign your name. The rich kids had ones that came with suckers, maybe even a roll of Smarties candy.

Well, my first taste of romance was in second grade. Our mailboxes had been stuffed full, and it came time to finally open our valentines. One by one, we would sort through them, just waiting to see if "so-n-so" had sent one to this person or that. (Oh yes, the romantic drama flowed deeply, even in second grade!) And, then there it was. A little paper valentine. It wasn't anything special, particularly. I remember it was a little rectangle with a picture of a humming bird. It had a joke on it (well, if you call it a joke in the loosest sense of the word, I suppose). It said "Why do humming birds hum?" and then you flipped it over and it gave the punchline "Because they don't know the words!" (Yeah, see, not very hilarious). But there...and the was signed To: Emily From: Your Secret Admirer

I had a Secret Admirer? I never did quite get down to the bottom of who that was from. Which is really saying something about my lack of investigative skills at the time since there were only about 8 boys in my class at the time. Nevertheless, that day there was a new sensation in my heart. A new lump in my throat. A new butterfly in my belly. That day, I felt pure romance for the first time. Somebody liked me!

Obviously, this hummingbird fellow and I never panned out. But, whoever it was, I am eternally thankful for instilling in me the notion that I was worth flirting with. So, Mr. Hummingbird Boy, wherever you are - your humor could use a little tweaking, but thanks for the boost of confidence!

Through the years, I've seen romance come to me in roses, chocolates, teddy bears - all the traditional forms. My husband is a hopeful romantic, certainly, and has showered me with lovely gifts in the past. He has wooed me. He has made me swoon. He has swept me off my feet in more ways than Hallmark knows what to do with. But, as the years go on and the babies have been born, it is getting more and more difficult to come up with ways for us to celebrate February 14th.

Don't get me wrong. A girl loves flowers, candy, and all that jazz. It's all good. I am still a fan of Valentine's Day and happy that we can step out of our normal routine to make sure we spoil our spouse. But, if I wait for my husband to only spoil me on Valentine's Day, then I'm probably going to be disappointed a lot the rest of the year. And yet, he shouldn't necessarily be giving me heart shaped boxes of chocolates in the middle of May...or teddy bears for no reason in July. No, no...what I'm suggesting here is that instead of waiting for romance to find me...I'm going looking for it instead.

Romance is whatever we call it. We're all familiar with the term "Love language" by now - how we each have our personal way of communicating and receiving love. For one person, a walk on the beach is romantic. For another, playing Scrabble. And for someone else, simply getting a text just to know you are being thought of. So - why don't we search out more of this in our daily life? Find it. Call it romance. And live much more happily than ever after.

These are the times in my life when I don't want a box of chocolates. I want a nap. Can you put that in heart shaped box? I don't need a dozen roses. I need my husband to wink at me and check me out when I fit into my "skinny" jeans. I don't need a teddy bear with a ribbon around the neck. I need the diaper trash taken out. This is my romance. This is daily, beautiful, true and absolute L-O-V-E.

Society and media (you know, the two main enemies housewives love to hate and blame all worries on) want us wives to believe that we deserve a lot and our husbands don't understand us. We see a jewelry commercial showing us a happy couple - how if "he really loves you" he will definitely have to buy you this enormous diamond. Then we see a fiber commercial and are reminded how absurdly stupid men are - "trick him into eating this candy bar - it's really a fiber cereal bar, but he'll never know it!?" And then we wonder why we get so upset that our stupid husbands aren't smart enough to read our minds and buy us things we don't even really want? (This may sound extreme, but if you think about it, there are whole reality shows based on this premise!)

Pshaw with that. No. I'm determined to find my husband might just not be spelled out in rose petals.

Romance needs to be redefined for each of us. Probably every year...maybe even more often than that! With each phase of our life together, I don't want things like Valentine's Day commercials to dictate how sexy my marriage may or may not be. Sure, my husband isn't bringing me home flowers each week...but, he does slip into dish gloves and scrubs up a messy sink multiple times a week (talk about sexy!) He gets the baby her pacifier at 4am. He cleans up poop without gagging. He fixes me really strong coffee. He sings Jesus Loves Me about 18 times until Matilda falls asleep. He scoops the kitty litter without being asked. And....he doesn't wait until February 14th to do any of these things.

Hallmark might not make a card for it yet, but I'm still the luckiest gal in the and every day. Look for the romance and you will find it. It just might not be the definition you are used to.

It just might be better.

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