It is February 14th, 2001. It’s a Hump Day, and, other than the vague recollection that it is loosely considered a holiday, a completely normal day for me.
Let me take a second to describe what a completely normal day looked like in 2001. At this point I have been married for 15 months, a homeowner for 21 months, a mother for less than 9 months. In other words, life moved pretty fast in those two years that preceded Valentine’s Day 2001.
Of all the decisions we made during that time, the biggest game-changer was the birth of our daughter, but not in the way you might think. Well, yes, it certainly did change life in the way you might think, but we had some additional circumstances arise that set different chains of events in motion. It should also go without saying that I am using the term “decision” loosely, as it would imply that we put a lot of time and effort into making whatever change we were making; the impetuosity of youth laughed in the face of any kind of future planning!
Reilly arrived 8 weeks early; we expected her in July, she decided she wanted out in the Spring instead. So now, here we sit, brand new parents who didn’t think too far in advance what parenthood would entail, with a child that was fragile, to say the least. She spent 3 weeks in the NICU before she came home to us, and by the grace of God came home small, but otherwise perfect.
What now? For us, daycare was out of the question… how could we think of putting this little peanut into the hands of strangers? On the other hand, we were young nowhere near what one might consider “financially solvent” (remember, young, recently married, recent homeowners). So we scramble, and come up with a plan: I will work part-time, my husband will switch to a second shift, and a family member will cover the approximately 8 hours that are uncovered. Again, the grace of God was present that this all worked out.
So, teeny tiny daughter: covered. Mortgage payment: covered. Time spent as newlyweds? Not so much. Each day, my husband had the morning shift with Reilly while I rushed out to work, I came home, mid-day, he waited long enough for me to get changed, and off he went. By the time he got home, I was in bed. And so it continued, day in and day out.
I should add here that absolutely none of this is a complaint; in fact, far from it. The down-side of youth: decision-making without a lot of foresight. The upside of life: no real consideration that there is another option. This was life, and life was good!
Back to the present (the present being, of course, 2001, come on, keep up!). Usual Wednesday routine, up early, work a half day, rush in the door to get changed so my husband could get to his job on time. I run up to our bedroom (no small feat, our bedroom was on the third floor of the townhouse). Husband is lounging on the bed, but I am paying zero attention, I breeze by him and call over my shoulder, “Just give me two seconds to get change, and you can go.” I do a quick change in the closet, somewhat wondering why he has not moved off the bed. I come back into the bedroom to announce he is free to go, and I finally look at him… still lounging, and in lounge wear (which for us means sweats and t-shirts). I am dismayed. “What’s going on? You’ve got to go!”
No, he does not. While I have been only briefly considering the holiday, my husband has not. He took the day off from work, and he had meals and entertainment all lined up for us, all I had to do was sit back and hold our unbelievably agreeable infant while he prepared things.
It was the most wonderfully relaxing, chock full of surprises, decadently leisure-filled day that we spend since our honeymoon. We had fried pickles, which I had never even heard of before that day, let alone tried… delicious, and now every time I see them on a restaurant menu I smile. We had a shredded pork recipe that my husband borrowed from my Mom, and, the piece de resistance? Watching my all-time favorite movie at the time, Sixteen Candles (absolutely still in the top 5).
The element of surprise, the change-up from the regular routine, the detailed thoughtfulness, and the luxurious decadence all combined to make February 14, 2001 my favorite Valentine’s Day ever.
A very happy birthday to the first Valentine’s baby I’ve known… my sister! Hope it’s a great day, sis!
Second miracle: attempting a WordPress writing challenge! I have been challenged by: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/writing-challenge-valentine/