If you’ve noticed that I’ve been MIA for the past two weeks, it’s because I’ve been battling the flu. Being sick these past few weeks has really got me thinking a lot about the upcoming Holiday of Love, otherwise known as Valentine’s Day. Are you excited for Valentine’s Day, totally indifferent or “feeling some type of way”?
For as long as I can remember Valentine’s Day has made me feel some type of way. In junior high we purchased $1 mailgrams and sent them to one another. I recall partnering up with girlfriends and making sure everyone in the crew was accounted for so that no one would feel the embarrassment of not receiving one. If by chance a secret admirer did send you one, the excitement of this was quickly overshadowed by the awkward aftermath of having to interact with said admirer.
In high school some of the girls with boyfriends got big bouquets of flowers or gaudy balloons to carry around throughout the seven period day. Not getting one made me feel some type of way but carrying around these bulky objects also felt like a silly impractical display of show and tell.
As an adult in the workplace the traditions continued. I was flattered when my boyfriend sent me flowers a solid month before Valentine’s day as a random gesture. “Isn’t he early?”, a coworker asked. A month later the entire female dominated office was full of identical red roses from husbands and significant others. Some of the cattier women asked smugly if I expected to receive anything. Little had changed since junior high.
In dating I always found Valentine’s day burdensome. Most of my relationships lasted exactly three months, and thus year after year I’d find myself in that awkward meet at Christmas but can’t break up at Valentine’s day on general principle sort of loophole. Come on St. Patty’s day! In good relationships, I was all or nothing about Valentine’s day. In one year I made a very personalized 3ft by 5ft portrait of a boyfriend I’d been dating barely three months. My nosey doorman asked me if maybe I thought I might be “doing too much”. In other years I’d do nothing and feel bad when they unexpectedly did something.
For me, Valentine’s Day, the official love holiday, always seemed to cause either anxiety, disappointment, or temporary and artificial happiness. It made me evaluate and compare my love life to others in impractical silly ways. So if V-day isn’t the ultimate love expression day, what is? In what other ways can we measure the status of our love lives?
Well, having the flu has been a big measuring stick for me recently. In addition to slacking on the blog, I haven’t been able to cook, clean, do laundry, grocery shop or basically do anything other than go to work, come home and pass out. Recently my husband has been working longer hours to manage a temporary increase in workload. Despite this he comes home and loads and unloads the dishwasher, takes out the trash, cooks, does laundry and etc. If it wasn’t for him I literally would have no clean underwear because I seriously haven’t done laundry in a month.
This past weekend, my fever rose to 102 and we decided to go to the ER. On our way out the door I ran back to the bathroom and violently threw up in the sink. He followed behind me with a warm towel to help me wipe my face. Few things are grosser than puke, and so it always fascinates me when someone is able to momentarily ignore the disgustingness of a situation and be compassionate.
When we got to the hospital we waited for five hours for flu test results. The hospital ran out of rooms so they sat us in a closet with sticky dirty floors and a full trash can. They made me wear a mask which made it difficult to breath for the five hours. Throughout all of this, my husband attempted to distract me by playing movies on his phone and holding it out in front me as I squirmed in my chair in various directions. We finally were released at 1am with negative test results and news that the flu test is only 50% accurate anyway. In other words, we could’ve stayed home and flipped a coin.
Guilt stricken I went home, concerned that I’d consumed most of his Saturday with my sickness. This would inevitably mean he’d be working to finish his big report all day Sunday essentially missing the Super Bowl game. He spent the next day at his laptop half working, half watching the game and pestering me to eat and drink more stuff. He wasn’t the slightest bit concerned about not finishing the report, or missing out on super bowl parties.
We probably won’t do much for Valentine’s day next week. It falls on a Tuesday this year and we both are pretty exhausted on workdays. I don’t expect him to send flowers to my job, nor will I be disappointed when they don’t arrive. I will however continue to be beyond words grateful when he loads and unloads the dishwasher next Tuesday night, and every night after.
If you are someone who enjoys the flowers, dinner and romantic gestures of Valentine’s day then by all means communicate that it’s important to you to celebrate and then enjoy the day. But also, be mindful of your partner’s interest or disinterest in the day. If you happen to be paired with someone who is less interested in these gestures be careful not to misinterpret this. Valentine’s day can be fun, but presents or no presents, it isn’t a love defining day.
Love is what happens not just at the altar, not just on V-day, not just on anniversaries, but in the nuances and sacrifices of the everyday.
Don’t leave Valentine’s day to chance. Have a conversation, bring it up. Find out if your significant other values celebrating this day. If you hate celebrating this day, explain why. Maybe you don’t like having a prescribed day for expressing your love and you’d prefer offering sporadic gestures throughout the year. What woman wouldn’t appreciate that?! The main thing is to communicate and manage expectations. Also, whether you decide to celebrate or not celebrate the day, remember that women really do appreciate love expressed through everyday gestures, not just grand gestures. (Hint Hint: washing dishes is super sexy 🙂 )
To all my single friends. Make plans for Valentine’s day and get off social media. Social Media is the present day junior high mailgram or the high school girl walking through the halls with a ridiculous oversized stuffed teddy bear. For the past ten years, I wasn’t married but was eager to get married. Valentine’s day was just a reminder of failed relationships, and the fact that literally everyone I knew was better at dating than me. I guarantee you at least 3 people in your newsfeed will get engaged this Valentine’s day. You already know this is true so log off. And don’t be bitter or jealous about it either. This might sound cliché and if you are anything like me, you are tired of hearing married people say this, but …..”Enjoy your single life.”. Married life is different. It’s more responsibility, it’s life changing. It’s good, but seriously there is so much good about single life to enjoy. Last V-day I met up with my friend after work and we sweated it out at Soul Cycle for an hour ride. Then we went to dinner and shared a dessert. A year later she has moved to Houston and I’m sick with the flu in Philly. I wish I could easily recreate that night. Enjoy the time now, and log off social media.
Last but not least, don’t forget to call your mom. My mom never really has cared much about the pomp and circumstance of holidays, but in recent years I can tell she really appreciates being appreciated. So don’t forget to all your mom this V-day.
Good luck everyone, and I can’t wait to hear how the day goes for you. Share pictures too if you like!