When I was younger, my version of romantic love came basically from the movies and tv, like a lot of us. Specifically, rom-coms that are still my favorite to this day and I refuse to hear how unrealistic-slash-stalker-y, for example, “Sleepless in Seattle” is. I can quote every single line and dramatic pause from that movie and I will shun you if you criticize it. However, as I got older and started having my own experiences with romantic love, things shifted a bit. I started to care less about the sweeping grand gestures and more about, you know, the person and how they treated me. And now that I’ve been married for a few years and we have two little ones to raise, love has become something even more.
Because it’s not just about the two of us anymore and that can be hard. It can be hard when you’re spending so much time giving love to these tiny humans you are raising together and find yourself on empty when it comes to anything left to give to your partner. You’re un-showered and seemingly lacking any sense of who you were before these kids came into the picture. The days of lounging around in bed for hours together are gone for now. The days of being able to spontaneously do it in the kitchen or in the middle of the day on a weekend are pretty non-existent, too. And sometimes, it can feel like the two of you are somewhat washed, sleepy zombies who are playing the, “But I’m more tired than you today, so you do that” game with each other, which doesn’t spark the kind of love or joy that either you, your partner, or Marie Kondo would like.
Which is why it’s important to remember that you two were you two before it was you three (or four or five…) and you two will be you two long after they’ve moved out and decided you’re not nearly as magical and exciting as you were when they were three.
You two are you two. You’re the two that went on that first date all those years ago and had all of life’s possibilities laid out before you. You’re the two that got engaged and excited about the life you would build together. And you’re the two that stood up in front of your family and friends and vowed to duke it out with life with this guy by your side.
You’re the two that sat in awe, staring at the little plus sign on the pregnancy test in that tiny apartment you first shared together. You’re the two that wondered aloud and privately about how you’d ever be more than just the two of you and were excited and nervous about what that might mean. You’re the two who sat in a hospital room together while he held your hair and a puke bucket during your labor for all those hours. You’re the two who welcomed your first baby into the world and stared for what felt like days at her breathing and coo’ing, as if she was the first perfect creature ever created by anyone. You were the two who stood in awe of how much a little, tiny, perfect creature could poop so much that it’d go up her back and you are the two who took turns staying up nights when she had colic or when she was sick. You’re the two who felt hate for another human on a level you didn’t think possible when he uttered the words, “I’m tired” after a day of work while you were home with the baby all day. You’re the two who acknowledged out loud and often how hard this new parenting thing can be and reminded the other that you’re in this together: “I think she wants us to turn on each other so that she has someone else on her side. We can’t let that happen!” You’re the two that high fived when she slept through the night for the first time after six months. You’re the two that made it through those first few months of new parenthood and started to realize that maybe you could do this after all. You’re the two that stood in the middle of the living room in shock when you stared at that plus sign on the pregnancy test again and thought, “Well, we’ve really done it this time!” And you’re the two that sat in the NICU for hours with your newborn and marveled that you somehow created another perfect creature who could poop so much.
You’re the two that sometimes forget that it was once just the two of you and go days without talking to each other about anything other than your kids, the bills, or the to do list. And you’re also the two who have talked for hours on end about what you can do to stay connected, even when life is crazy, and then you’ve actually followed through. You’re the two who have gone through tremendous loss and grief and helped each other through that long journey and you’re the two who have experienced joy on a level never thought possible and have tried your best to practice gratitude with each moment. You’re the two who have changed jobs, moved homes, lost jobs, done the laundry, paid the bills, stolen kisses, raked the leaves, changed the diapers, gotten up early to let her sleep in, scrubbed the bottles, made the meals, whisper-fought in the hallway, managed the schedules, snuggled with your kids, rolled your eyes, air high-fived, smiled across a table, left in a huff, had the kitchen dance parties, giggled under blankets, and fallen in love harder than you ever could’ve imagined possible on that first date, so many years ago.
And you’ve done it all in the name of you two.
Take a moment sometime today to acknowledge what you’ve done together, mama, and steal one of those kisses to remind yourself of how you got here. It’s Valentine’s Day, which is as good an excuse as any I’ve heard to pinch the butt of the one you love.
Do it for you two.