Valentine’s Day: I really wasn’t feeling it this year. It’s not that Jeremy and I usually go all out for the day; we prefer to make a bigger deal of our anniversary which is the month before. But feeling decidedly less lovely and loving on the international day of romance than on any normal day was unexpected and a little disappointing.
We had been to a wedding the night before which was the epitome of romance: heart-felt vows, a radiant bride, fairy lights twinkling across an outdoor dance floor, and a groom who serenaded his bride with Bryan Adams, “Everything I do” (my 15-year-old self would have died to witness that!). It was a beautiful night, but I was a bit shocked at just how shattered I felt on the 14th. I’m not used to going to bed after midnight any more, and Lily and Elijah aren’t used to having sleepovers. I was tired, head-achy and irritable; the kids seemed to be intent on punishing us for having fun without them the night before (though I’m willing to concede that might have been all in my head!). From the time we picked them up at 8.30am, Valentine’s Day was unique only in that it seemed to have an excessive number of hours needing to be filled.
We went straight to church, and before the service started my three-year-old sneakily helped himself to extra jelly beans from the service desk, then worked through his sugar rush up and down the aisles. In the supermarket trolley my kids were all pokes and prods and “he dropped bread on my foot” / “she looked at me meanly.” At the bakery Elijah leaned out of the trolley and forcefully poked a bag of finger buns, which earned us a killer look from the bakery lady and a mortifying lecture about how she could no longer sell them (and a free bag of finger buns, but that is definitely not the lesson here…). The rest of the day was more of the same – capped off with Jeremy having to go back to work, leaving me utterly wrung-out and without back-up for the evening routines.
I wonder if all mums, even the really good ones, have off-days? As in dismally miserable I’m-about-to-lose-it off-days. Days where the bunch of stuff you always do for your kids (and even enjoy doing) seems suddenly completely insurmountable. Are there really any mothers out there who consistently manage to sail serenely above supermarket melt-downs, obstinate pre-schoolers and personal fatigue? Do they maintain voices soft as lambskins as they encourage their children to finish fruit snacks that have been styled to resemble the Very Hungry Caterpillar? Or could it be that those mums whose wisdom and serenity I admire just know when to let go; when to acknowledge that they need the sustaining power of One beyond themselves? Time and again, I doggedly slog on in my own strength, rather than surrender my burdens to Him who actually offers, “rest for your souls”.
Finally: blessed bedtime. One went down easily, leaving just the tricky one to go. Every night I sit beside him, while he chats about all the important things, and gradually winds down from the electrifying experience of being a 3-year-old:
Mama, let’s talk about what we did today!
Mama, I’m imagining what it would look like in a dinosaur’s mouth.
Mama, do you love me?
Yes, I do.
Do you really love me?
I really do, Bubba.
Do you love me bigger than space?
Yes, I love you bigger than space.
Woah! Do you love me bigger than the sky and all the planets even the dangerous ones?
I sure do.
Mama do doctor-planes have propellors? Imagine if our airport just had little planes! Do some of the doctor-planes pick up the sick animals?
Mama I love you.
My arm rests on his pillow, his hand in mine. His cheek is pressed against my wrist and I feel his eyelashes brush my skin as he blinks slower and slower.
And there, right at the end of an average day, was my love story. Because what more could you ask for on Valentine’s Day, than someone whom (despite his maddening tendency to eat the jelly beans and poke the finger buns) you love bigger than all the planets, and who you know without question loves you in return? Be mine, little man of my heart.