Sometimes Love Means Buying Your Own Flowers

12 Feb

Whine: I just spent 2+ hours in our local specialty grocery store with two little kids and high-heeled boots (hey, they were the only twelve-inches-of-snow-appropriate footwear I could find). By the time we exited Lil’ Sis had mauled an apple –I’ve never seen such carnage this side of applesauce.  She also alternated between sweetly saying “Thank you, Lady” or “Hi, Sir” and screaming/growling/roaring at me and the general public.  That’ll teach me to try and shop during naptime.

Cheese: That store is faaaaannnncy. I bought lots of yummy things for tomorrow’s Valentine’s Feast, including some cheese, of course. Queso Blanco with Serrano Chiles and Epazole. Like I know what epazole is. For what I paid, I sure hope I like it.

Valentine’s Day. Some people love it. Some people loathe it. Many people fear it — forgetful men and commitment phobes, especially.  Lots of people let it pass by like any other day.

I’ve been at pretty much every stage with this day. I remember one very special year when I decided to commemorate the (lack of) love in my life by wearing black. I remember lots of years trying really hard not to care. And then I snagged Mr. Dad.

When we were first together, I loved Valentine’s Day. Mr. Dad’s mother raised him right and taught him how to choose a schmaltzy card and some nice flowers. Which probably had something to with the fact that her first Valentine’s Day card from Mr. Dad’s dad was presented to her all those years ago unsigned in the brown grocery sack he’d just run in and bought it in while she waited in the car.

But after a year or two things changed. I wouldn’t say the romance wore off. I’d say I got more picky. I didn’t want a bunch of roses that he’d picked up on his way home from the tent in the grocery store parking lot. I wanted him to have thought about his overwhelming love for me and found a way to express that through flowers, gifts and handwritten cards, but without breaking the bank. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

One year, my expectations hit fever pitch. I spent all day long choosing a new outfit and perfect accessories to wear on what Mr. Dad had assured me would be a magical surprise date. Then I got home and began to get ready and realized that we weren’t going anywhere. Mr. Dad was making dinner for two in our apartment. And this was no hotdogs and macaroni feast. No, if I remember correctly, it involved steak, steamed crab legs and chocolate-covered strawberries.

And I was disappointed.

I know, I know, I know. Go ahead and make a dartboard from my picture. I was a terribly foolish and ungrateful woman. But I had spent all day choosing the perfect outfit so I’d look just right. I needed to go out. To be seen. Honestly, I had been planning on going out. And we all know how I do when the plan changes.

We somehow survived the Valentine’s Debacle of ’02. Dinner that night was delicious. (Score another point for Mr. Dad’s mom, who apparently passed down some of her kitchen skills to her eldest son.) And we learned a few things about us. Mostly that I like to be in charge. Surprise, surprise.

Fast forward a few years and things are a little different. Tomorrow night’s Valentine’s celebration, will, in fact be a dinner for two served at home. I planned the menu, and incidentally, steak and steamed crab legs are on the menu. I bought all the ingredients. And since I was the one who was going to be at the faaaaannnncy store today, I bought my own flowers. Well, I bought myself one flower; they really hike those prices around this time of year. Plus, I’d rather spend my V-day budget on steak and chocolate strawberries than flowers.

Lots of people spend lots of time stressing about Valentine’s Day. Lots of guys have been in Mr. Dad’s shoes. Trying their best to get the right thing and still managing to strike out, standing outside the locked bathroom door trying to understand just what was so wrong with the box of generic chocolates and the card that had no personal message, just his signature. (Hey, at least it was signed.) Lots of girls have been in my shoes. Locked in the bathroom, wondering if he actually really loves her or not, because if he did surely he’d know that tulips are her favorite flowers and that chocolate upsets her stomach.

At a wedding I once heard the officiant give the best advice I’d ever heard given to a groom. He said, “Become a student of your wife.” And that, in my personal opinion, is what Valentine’s Day, what Love, boils down to. It’s about knowing someone and being known. And in that place of vulnerable trust, being loved anyway.

I’m not saying Mr. Dad and I have it all figured out. And I’m not saying I love him perfectly or he me. I chastised him just yesterday after he worked all day out in the snow then stopped on his way home for a few groceries for buying four more items than I requested. I may never learn. 

But you know what? He knows that I am, ahem, a little tightly wound. That I do my best to take care of our house, our budget, our kids, and that sometimes a little change in plans is a hard thing for me to assimilate. So he smiles (ok, maybe his teeth are gritted), offers me a little grace and goes on his way.

And you know what else? I know that he (somewhat inexplicably) is happiest when he can be with me. Sitting on the couch watching dvr and playing backgammon. Perhaps enjoying a bowl of ice cream. Even though he does love them Cowboys (and Mavericks and Baylor Bears), when it comes down to it, he likes to be with me. Even though I’m me. Or because I’m me. Imagine that.

And so when Valentine’s Day rolls around these days what I need from him is not a box of chocolates I won’t eat or a dozen roses that I’ll forget to water.  What I need is to know that he knows me and that he loves me. Which means I’d rather have him spend his time emptying the dishwasher without my asking than running around town trying to find just the right card. And I’d rather be home with him, eating a meal we cooked together (that I planned, of course) than out for a fancy night at the opera. But mostly because we both hate opera.

One flower for each of his girls. Who cares if I had to buy them? It's the thought that counts.

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6 Responses to “Sometimes Love Means Buying Your Own Flowers”

  1. Aunt Linnaea February 13, 2010 at 8:28 am #

    Sarah, you did a nice job of putting into words some of the mixed-up feelings we can get. Congratulations on having a loving plan for this year’s Valentines Day.

  2. michelle February 13, 2010 at 9:07 am #

    beautiful. maybe I’ll go buy myself some flowers today….or coffee.
    we kind of stink at valentines around here too. It shouldn’t come so close to Christmas….we are always still broke.

  3. Mom February 13, 2010 at 1:28 pm #

    Hi Susie Q. I just want you to know how proud I am of you and how much I love you.

  4. kel February 19, 2010 at 11:04 pm #

    My valentine’s day card from my mom this year said “Love, Linda”.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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