We Don’t Need Valentine’s

Today is Valentine’s. I’m currently at the car shop with a flat tire and working the rest of the day. She’s taking the toddler to the dentist. After school, one kid is in a short-term bowling league, so she’s hauling all four of them over there. It lasts just long enough to barely make it to the Valentine’s School Dance (which is actually on Valentine’s. I haven’t decided if that’s a positive for a couple hours off or a burden for having to do it). But so far, only the girls want to go; the boy may or may not. So we don’t know if we’ll just have the toddler tonight or two boys.

Happy Valentine’s. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

This so-called holiday has never really worked out for us. At the beginning, my second jobs would get in the way. If delivering pizzas, it was almost required to be there because the parents going out on a date wanted to order something for the kids. Or while working at the Ryman Auditorium, there would most definitely be a show, because there needs to be a concert for lovers to attend. Our plans would typically never form, or we’d try to make up for it the night before or after.

But it’s probably bothered me more than my wife. I’m more of the hopeless romantic anyway. Every year since our first Valentine’s together, I would give her a rose on what was our dating anniversary and each day until Valentine’s. Every year! This year she was not surprised because I had left a reminder for myself on the online calendar. And I must have gotten the worst batch of flowers from Kroger because every rose I gave would die the next day. I left one as a surprise to find, but the morning was so chaotic that it was a burden for her to have to deal with it.

Happy Valentine’s. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

I don’t even know how you handle babysitting on Valentine’s anyway. Either you’re asking another couple to not do their Valentine’s, or saying “Hey, you’re single! Why don’t you babysit for us?!”

But here’s the good news. We don’t need Valentine’s. Valentine’s happens the rest of the year. You can’t make up for 364 days of being a lame husband on one candlelight dinner. But you can miss one night intended to be romantic, if you’ve done enough the rest of the year.

If the only time you’re romantic is on Valentine’s, then you’re no romantic at all. What for? So you can overspend on unnecessary stuff to try and pay off your shortcomings? No. (Though why wife says she would not reject jewelry if I wanted to get her something).

Valentine’s happens when I come home and let her take a bath in peace and quite while I do homework with the kids. Valentine’s happened last weekend when she let me sleep in on a Saturday. It happens when I took all her work supplies to her car for her so she wouldn’t have to worry about it in the morning.

It happened when she did my part of the housework while I was having a rough day. It’s when I had a pack of decaf k-cups delivered to her office because she complained about the brand she had. It’s knowing each other so well that the best present at Christmas wasn’t on anyone’s list. It’s taking date nights once or twice a month.

Valentine’s happens with the hugs, kisses, hand-holding, glances, notes, favorite TV shows, and midday messages throughout the whole year. So if this over-blown holiday doesn’t work out like it does in the movies, don’t worry. You’ve got all year to show the love of your life, why they’re the love of your life.

A Rose A Day

February was approaching and I knew that I had two dates that I shouldn’t screw up. First was our dating anniversary. Two. Whole. Months. Yes, when dating, you celebrate benchmarks the same way you give a baby’s age: by months. “My baby’s 20-months-old.” No, he’s not. People just don’t math like that. You can choose between a “year-and-a-half” or “almost-two.” Ok? After a year, month-counting should fade away. Anyway, our dating anniversary was the 4th. It was only two months, so there’s the decision of how big this celebration should be. Just dinner? An actual gift? Like, a card? Fake jewelry? (cause this broke college kid ain’t buying much over $20).

Then BAM! It hit me. “I’ll get her flowers, but we also have Valentine’s Day coming up. Do I buy them twice?” This is where goofy, undateable Jared turned into the charming romantic we all know and love today. I bought a dozen flowers and kept them in my dorm. The morning of the 4th, I surprised her with a rose. “Aw, you remembered our dating anniversary!” Yes. Yes, I did. Then on the morning of the 5th, I gave her another rose. “What? Why? You just gave me one!” I know, oh yes, I know. Then at various times of day and different places I would give her another of the dozen each day all the way up to Valentine’s. And I’ve done the same thing. From the 4th to the 14th. Every year. For 16 years.

*drops mic, walks off stage*

Genius #1: Cost savings (let’s be honest). It’s just one bunch of flowers. No vase or arrangement needed.

Genius #2: Taking what would’ve been a single happy moment of delivering flowers, and making it exponentially better. Not only just 11 times more because it’s one a day, but even more so because it’s unique.

Genius #3: It doesn’t matter that I’m doing the same thing every year. Many times she forgets about it and creates a delightful surprise. Plus it gives me something easy to remember to do every year.

Genius #4: It’s totally fun. I love the creative aspect. When am I going to sneak it to her today? One day this year I left it in the snow on her windshield. Another day I dropped it off at her work before she arrived. (Trying to think how to attach a rose to the baby without him eating it).

A slight downside is now that I’ve done it for so long, I have to always do it, and it’s difficult to always remember. I was late by a day or two a couple years ago. Sometimes I’ve chosen a less-than-optimal time to give one. Like this year, I picked an unwise time of day. I gave her the first one when the baby woke up crying in the middle of the night. Quote “HUH!? uhg.. jared… *sigh* you’re ridiculous.” Once I snuck a rose over the shower curtain. Side note: my wife does not like being scared. I repeat, does not.

And just today she was at home alone when the delivery truck for the dishwasher came. They had to turn off the main water valve, which is where I keep my stash of flowers. Busted.

I haven’t always been the best at doing something special on Valentine’s night either. There’s a whole lot of pressure here. You’ve heard it said that Valentine’s was created just as a marketing scheme to get guys to buy stuff. I haven’t ruled that idea out. But for many years, I had a second job that forced me to work on the 14th. Having kids just makes it that much more difficult. Mostly because you don’t want to ask someone “Hey, you’re not doing anything for Valentine’s. Wanna babysit?”

We’ve managed to make the best out of it. Alternate days, lunch not dinner, some creative desserts, and dusting off the china.

So if I had any tips for guys:

This not-always-perfect Valentine’s works for us because we’re doing well as a couple the other 364 days of the year. (Well, maybe like 352 days). One superficial holiday is not going to mend underlying problems.

Do your thing. Don’t do my idea or anyone else’s. You have a unique relationship and it calls for something more than simply taking her to a restaurant.

But also, make sure you still do Valentine’s. Don’t brush it off. You can’t skip it. Even if she tells you to and she’s not “that kind of girl.” You have to do Valentine’s. Really. You have to. I’m not kidding.