It’s February, and that means Valentine’s Day is around the corner. Remember what that was like? That little flutter of the heart as you anticipated roses and chocolates, or a romantic night out with that special someone.
And it’s a pretty sure bet that one of those romantic interludes landed you in that little pickle I like to call parenthood.
These days, a romantic gesture for the modern parent is hubby taking out the trash without having to be nagged, or wifey making time in her hectic schedule to make sure that hubby has a hot meal waiting for him when he gets home from work in the evening.
Where did it all go wrong?
Things didn’t start going pear-shaped after the kids arrived… nor did it start after you said “I do!”… As much as you’d like to blame your mother in law for your husband’s Neanderthal-like oblivion of the value of roses.
Actually, it all started when we were little girls in pig tails, twirling around in our princess dresses, reading stories of beautiful princesses and brave knights; of high adventure and beasts and villains, and daring rescues and amazingly powerful first kisses.
The destroyer of our ordinary-life-happiness can be found in this one phrase:
“And they all lived happily ever after.”
Six Things that Make ‘Happily Ever After’ Possible in Real Life:
Ok, so I’m not completely deluded.
I know that I don’t have my own TV show, and that my husband parks in the garage, and not on the helicopter pad that we don’t have. I get that I’m just a mom living an ordinary life in (beautiful) suburbia, and that my life is what it is.
But these things make my reality the fairy-tale I’ve always hoped for:
- Remembering that I am literally living ‘the dream’ – you know, just before the credits come up, and the movie pans out to show the house, the happy kids and the red tricycle on the front lawn, and the couple standing hand in hand, fondly smiling at each other? Yep, that’s me. Sans the background music of course. Sometimes this is hard to remember, but when I do, I instantly become more grateful.
- Secondly, remembering that I do have a husband. And he’s still with me, even when I’m completely irrational, or emotional, or exhausted… That kind of loyalty and integrity is hot. Super hot. Not necessarily the stuff you read praised in romance novels, but definitely the stuff of real-life romance.
- Comparison is the thief of joy. I’m learning to be thankful for what I DO have instead of crying over what I don’t have. I teach my kids “you get what you get, and you don’t get upset” – works for them, works for me too!
I let my husband be my shining knight whenever possible. Listen ladies, this is not by accident. I allow these ‘damsel in distress’ moments to happen, by letting him rescue me daily… “This bottle is too tight to open, help!” “There’s a big ugly spider in the bathroom… eeeek!” This nails two fundamental needs:
- Men need to be the brave hero. Seriously. Every single man needs to save someone.
- Women need to be rescued. We want someone big and strong to save us. Boom. Done.
- I appreciate the little things and assign them value over the big, dream-holiday romantic gestures. Quite simply because of the rate of return: there are way more of these small gestures of love and they happen far more frequently, so my love tank is topped up regularly.
- I remind myself that work is love. My husband emptying the bin and picking up the dog poop is love. Me making six meals for two little people every morning is love (school lunches are a mission at 6am, people!)
- And lastly, but not least – we keep things kind. Being kind to each other is probably the most ‘happily ever after’ thing you can have in your marriage. Having a kind relationship is when people start commenting on how great your marriage is. It’s a constant reminder that I need to talk to my husband in a different way than how I talk to my colleagues, or to my kids, or to my parents. Or the dog. Being kind is a choice. And such a good choice.
Ordinary but Fabulous
So, I know that butternut on my face or marmite on my blouse is not glossy magazine material, but life is still pretty fabulous. And keeping my head out of the clouds means I can enjoy my ordinary and everyday-romantic time on earth so much more.
Have fun this Valentine’s Day ladies. I’d love to hear your ideas and stories of the inventive ways you’ve found to keep your fairy-tale dream alive.