Valentine's Day. The day for honouring your sweetheart. How is it that I can be in a relationship, have that be the centre point from which every aspect of my life flows and yet find it to be one of the hardest topics to put down on paper?
Kent and I aren't mushy people. We don't go around declaring our love with roses and chocolate and love notes. We haven't even had a wedding, a proposal moment, a honey moon, or even a romantic dinner for that matter. We are a very romantic couple but not in the way that sells greeting cards or over-priced roses one day of the year. I call him my husband, he calls me his wife. That's what we are to each other.
We are not very romantic but we are very affectionate people. We do public displays of affection quite frequently, much to the dismay and embarrassment of our older girls. The little ones like to get in on it, asking for hugs and kisses. We love each other but I think what is most obvious in our relationship is that we like each other. Our love for each other is deep and strong and holds us together in rough times, our liking for each other gets us through the regular days.
You would have to ask Kent why he likes me(but I mean seriously, what's not to like?) but I can go into much detail about what I like and love about him. Where do I start, let me count the ways. I love thee to the breadth and depth...oops, forgot, we don't do that, sorry couldn't resist.
When Kent and I first connected as a couple it was almost immediately after my separation from my older girls father. He emailed me that week and called me that weekend. I was somewhat surprised at that but it was nice to have the support. We'd always been friends, had seen each other at various events, etc. and then somewhere, in the course of the next few weeks we ended up at my cousin's CD launch together. And that was the beginning. I knew he'd changed from that young crazy teen boy that I knew back in high school. I'd grown and changed too. I was surprised at how much he'd changed. I fell in love with him the moment I saw a Stan Roger's CD on the seat of his car. Any man who listened to Stan Rogers had to be special and that cinched it for me. My favourite song is 45 Years, a Stan Rogers classic. We played it a lot during those early days together.
We lived 3 hours from each other. Every weekend one of us would visit the other. We did this for a year until Kent, being the man he was, offered to move to where I was so that the girls would remain close to their father. I had offered to move to him but he thought of the kids first and we made the decision that he would come with us. He sold his house in Windsor and we bought our first home in Shakespeare. Kent bought his first big truck which was promptly stolen. That was a very stressful week. We had sunk all our money into it. Just bought a house and suddenly our livelihood was gone. Kent got the truck back but it had set us back financially. While we were going through this we thought it was horrible. But the most beautiful thing in the world came out of that horrible time. Our daughter Sophia was conceived.
Wow, was that man ever excited about the baby! I don't think we slept at all the night I told him. He supported me in my preference for a midwife and a home birth. He trusted me completely in the decisions I made during pregnancy. He was supportive and sweet and my pregnancy was uneventful and truly enjoyable.
About a week before she was born, when I was already about 9 days overdue I went into false labour. During those hours, before we realised nothing was really happening, I found Kent in the garage alone. He confided that he was feeling emotional because the pregnancy was almost over. He had become so involved in the pregnancy thing that he was sad that it was ending. There was never a man so in love with a woman's pregnant body. He loved to feel her move inside and was fascinated by the whole process. He was the most supportive birth coach there ever was, slow dancing with me through every contraction,(now that's romantic) patient with my craziness during the 16 days past my due date when other people drove me mad, never once complaining, although I knew it was in the back of his mind, about the money he was losing while being off work waiting for our Sophia.
And then she was born. And a daddy was born. He was fascinated. He hated leaving her. I was immediately dropped for a younger woman and I didn't mind a bit. I remember when she was around 2 months old he was holding her and he said "let's have another one, she's so cute". And of course we did. Twenty-eight months later along came Martina, a carbon-copy of her dad in looks but a little more like her mom in temperament. He changed the cloth diapers, he wore them in a snuggly proudly and he read story after story to them patiently. He loves to take them with him when he runs errands because he is so proud of them.
And I can't fail to mention how seriously he took his role as a stepfather. I never liked the term stepfather. Somehow it has negative connotations. Yet it's applicable here because he "stepped" up to the job. He didn't always get along with the kids, but he always cared about them. I can't imagine how hard it is to an instant father after 35 years of bachelorhood, but he always loved them. He never once resented their presence. He cried along with me when they were disappointed by the people in their lives who should have been there for them and weren't. He paid the bills, paid for the braces, made sure they had what they needed and did all the things a father should do including worrying and loving them, without the privilege of being number one dad in their lives. I don't know that they appreciate all he does. I don't know that they know all he did. But he did it, still does it and I know. And how can you not love someone who loves your kids that way?
And then there is is steadfast commitment to me and the family. A sense of responsibility and a capacity for the deepest devotion to those he cares about. He has never once separated our roles as parents into my job and his job. When he's home he takes whoever needs to go to bed to bed, he takes care of whatever needs taken care of. He never complains about not getting other things done when he is busy with the kids because the care of the kids is job one to him and he truly loves it. He's also good around the house. He will help with the dishes, grab the vacuum, clean the showers, clean out the refrigerator, clean out the oven, scrub the floors, yeah he does all of that, and no, you can't borrow him!
Today is Valentine's Day and he's home. This is the first year in a long time that he has been. We are having a "Family Valentines Day Party" at the request of the kids. No romantic candle light dinners, nothing mushy, nothing traditional and costly. I'm baking a cake. Martina wants red ribbons in her hair, daddy is going to town to buy them. We'll watch Hockey Night in Canada, we'll laugh and joke and disagree with Don Cherry, though we can't miss Coach's Corner. He'll cheer the Bruins because they are my team and I'll root for the Islanders because that's his team. Both of us will make fun of the Leafs and the Canadians because it's ever so much fun to do so.
I am very grateful to have my sweetheart home this year. I don't need anything else. If I did I know he'd provide it to the best of his ability. He's not perfect, but I wouldn't ask him to change a thing because I would be afraid the trade-off wouldn't be worth it.
So happy Valentines Day everybody. I hope you find or have found true love in your life. And if you have I hope you don't spend your time wishing your love was different than they are. If you have a good-hearted person to share your time with you are truly blessed. Roses die, diamonds are just carbon, poetry is found in the monotony of the regular day, not the fleeting moments of a Hallmark holiday. I'll take my regular great guy and appreciate him for exactly who he is
Robert Frost said "We love the things we love for who they are".
Ogden Nash said "Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker".
I'm up for a bit of both after the hockey game tonight. Happy Valentines Day!