I read a post circulating that said that every day is Valentine’s Day when you are with someone you really love. This, I say, is just not true. Every day is Valentine’s Day is a lie.
The longer I am married and just the longer I am alive, I am convinced more and more that love is not a feeling but rather, mostly just a choice. Every day is not Valentine’s Day. Every day is a choice.
When we are first falling in love with someone, there are events in our lives that we cannot imagine will ever take place. When I was looking dreamy eyed at my boyfriend (now husband) I couldn’t picture being in a hospital bathroom and calling him for help because I had just had our first baby and needed help changing that diaper you wear when you are still bleeding after labor. I couldn’t anticipate the phone call that let us know one of his brothers had been in an accident that would leave him paralyzed. I couldn’t foresee the phone call from my dad to come as soon as possible and finding my mom unable to walk in the hallway. We would later find out she had Parkinson’s disease. How about the day the tractor battery blew up in my dad’s face? Or the day the pediatric neurologist looked at me and asked, “Has anyone ever told you that she may be on the autism spectrum?” These are just a few examples. And my husband and I aren’t even 40 yet. We have been married for 14 years. Bills pile up on the table. You work all the time and miss seeing each other and try to juggle raising children the very best you can and you feel totally overwhelmed. And there are more funerals than you ever thought of. Remember the days when we were young enough ourselves to think that only really old people were the ones who passed away? Oh, and the cars always break down. At least for me, anyway.
Let me just be honest. Valentine’s Day doesn’t even feel like Valentine’s Day. The baskets of clothes waiting for me to fold don’t disappear on February 14th and neither do the dishes and there is no housekeeper coming to take out the trash. If you are lucky, none of the kids are sick on Valentine’s Day. If you are like me, you ask your husband not to worry about sending you flowers because you really can’t drive safely from work all the way to do a daycare pick up and then all the way home while holding a big bouquet in a vase.
Love is so messy. I am happy for the person who wrote that flowery, super sugary and encouraging post about Valentine’s Day. But the reality of my life, and maybe some of your lives, is that the sugar is literally you finding your 7 year old eating sugar out of the sugar container by pushing a chair up there to reach it as soon as she thinks you can’t see her. I have three daughters and the last thing I want for them is to grow up thinking that every day is going to be Valentine’s Day. That is an expectation no man, or woman, will ever be able to meet. Yes, I want my girls to be loved and respected and I want every happiness for them.
But love is good because it is faithful and faithful is not easy and it is definitely not always fun. I’d rather have someone who stands with me through every mess and balances me out in all my inadequacies and protects me and corrects me and supports me when I need it than all of the Valentine’s cards and candy in the world. For many people, whether it is a spouse or a child or a friend, what love looks like is a choice. It’s a decision. It’s not giving up. It’s not running away when it gets hard. It’s figuring it out. It’s doctor’s appointments. It’s really difficult conversations. It’s forgiving when you don’t want to forgive and it’s admitting and apologizing when you are wrong. And while it might be Valentine’s Day for an hour or during a vacation, it’s just not every day and you know what? That is alright.