The Bad Mommy Meal Preps

I follow this fitness/nutrition blogger on Facebook. She’s young, kidless, her boobs haven’t discovered gravity yet, and she gets paid to blog about her fitness journey.

I don’t know why I follow her exactly…her life isn’t anything like mine. Usually I feel awful about myself when I read her blog and look at her pictures. Then I have to remind myself that she spends 3 hours in the gym everyday. Who wouldn’t look great if they spent that amount of time at the gym (well, except for that guy who wanders around the gym talking to people and not actually working out)?

The other day on her blog she posted pictures the usual pictures of her firm ass cheeks and then of her meal prep. She said she spends at least an hour a day meal prepping. It’s time consuming but it affords her the flexibility to spend time doing other things (probably living at the gym) and not giving into cravings. (I’m paraphrasing here.)

I promptly broke out into a fit of laughter as I gazed at the pictures of her bland and boring meals without any jealousy at all. I wouldn’t eat that stuff every day if you paid me! And spend hours prepping for meals I wouldn’t even feed my dog? What a waste of time! Who can afford to spend an hour a day prepping their meals??? That’s not even counting the time spent eating the meal! Oh wait, a kidless fitness freak who gets paid to do that, that’s who.

And that’s when it hit me. Despite the fact that I don’t look like this fitness guru, I STILL spend about 16 hours a week “meal prepping”. What?!?!? Why the hell can’t I bounce a quarter off my butt? Oh, wait, probably because I don’t eat a diet of tofu and veggies and live in the gym. I should share my “meal prep” saga with all you other moms out there feeling bad that you don’t have chiseled abs or toned arms. So here we go, dear readers…meal prep Bad Mommy style:

SATURDAY: Stare at myself in the mirror hating every inch of my body. Jiggle my arm fat with disgust. Pinch way more than an inch on my belly. Try to get my nipples to point straight out without actually lifting my boobs. Vow to do better with eating next week. Inform Hubby and kids we are eating healthier next week. No going out to dinner. No ice cream for dinner. No junk food. No alcohol. Hubby and kids roll their eyes and nod their heads. Total time: 0.5 hours

SUNDAY: Spend 2.7 hours pinning recipes on Pinterest. Ask Hubby and kids what they’d like to eat this week. Receive shoulder shrugs and a round of “I don’t know”. Tell them they’re eating what I pick if they don’t give input. Create week’s menu on chalkboard in kitchen without input from family. Scour this week’s supermarket circular for sales. Cut coupons. Compile list of groceries needed to make the meals on this week’s menu. Total time: 5 hours

MONDAY: Make eggs for breakfast. Eat eggs by myself because no one else wants breakfast. Give leftover eggs to dog. Grab expired yogurt and a bruised apple for lunch because there is nothing else to eat in the house yet. Give list to Hubby to go to the store. Pat myself on the back for divvying up the work (I’m not the only person who eats in the house after all). Field 4 phone calls and 7 texts from Hubby while he is at the store because he doesn’t understand the very explicit list. Take out items to make meal number #1 when I get home from work. Realize that list wasn’t explicit enough for Hubby and he got the wrong type of meat. Go to the store myself to get the right meat. Cook meal. Burn meal. Yell at kids because they won’t eat the meal. Eat my own meal in silence. Throw out their meals, clean up kitchen and declare the kitchen closed. Fume as they disregard my statement and make pasta and cereal. Clean up the kitchen a second time. Resist urge to pour wine. Total time: 4.5 hours

TUESDAY: Make eggs for myself for breakfast. Remind family that there is cereal for breakfast. Remind them that they will be hungry when they don’t eat. Make salad for myself for lunch. Ask daughter if she wants a salad. Ignore her eyerolling and laughter at the suggestion that she eat a salad. Come home from work and inform Hubby that he has to cook tonight because the recipe is too complicated. Discover that I forgot an ingredient he needs and go to store. Hubby makes meal, Hubby makes a giant mess and uses every pot, bowl, and utensil in the kitchen. Kids eat meal, I clean up meal. I make salad for tomorrow’s lunch so I don’t have to rush. Pour 5 oz of wine in a glass and drink slowly. Total time: 3.5 hours

WEDNESDAY: Realize I forgot to take the meat for tonight’s meal. Run to store to grab something to throw in the crock pot. Pick up a bagel on the way to work. Realize I left salad in fridge at home. Beg Hubby to bring me my lunch. Come home on lunch and throw food in crock pot. Eat dinner. Clean up dinner. Drink 5 oz of wine quickly and have half a second glass. Total time: 2.3 hours

THURSDAY: Realize I still forgot to defrost the meat. Have cereal for breakfast. Grab a bag of lettuce, cucumber and a knife to make salad at work. Go out to dinner. Have yummy cocktail at dinner. Have 8 oz of wine at home. Total time: 0.2 hours

FRIDAY: Say screw it. Order sausage, egg, and cheese from the deli for breakfast. Order from the Italian place around the corner for lunch. Go out to dinner. Have a pitcher of sangria at dinner. Total time: 0 hours

SATURDAY: Stare at myself in the mirror hating every inch of real estate on my body. Vow to do better with eating next week. Inform Hubby and kids we are eating healthier next week. No going out to dinner. No ice cream for dinner. No junk food. No wine. Hubby and kids roll their eyes and nod their heads.

And repeat…

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Mother's Day

What Mom Wants for Mother’s Day

Wondering what to get your mother for the big holiday coming up this Sunday? I’ve decided to put my dislike for this day aside (see Mother’s Day Misery) and help you all out in your gift giving enthusiasm. Here are a few simple rules to follow in order to make this Mother’s Day the best for your mom.

The Rules:

#1. Don’t cook your mother a meal…unless you plan on cleaning up the ENTIRE meal.  This means scrubbing the waffle iron clean and running the dishwasher. This includes the knives you use and the mugs she drinks out of. It also mean you need to clean up the milk you spill on the floor and the flour that ends up on the ceiling fan. Not willing to do that? Then no breakfast in bed and no elaborate French dinners. Mom does NOT want to clean up your mess. She also does NOT want to go out to eat with a million other moms. So what to eat? Order take out or make burgers on the grill (and don’t forget—it’s YOUR job to clean it up). Some moms are partial to Sangria, chips and guacamole for lunch on Mother’s Day…hint, hint, mi familia. 

#2. Don’t spend a lot of money on a gift. I’m not kidding. Mom doesn’t want an expensive gift. Spending money doesn’t show you care. What means more than an expensive gift? Get her something she’s mentioned over the last few months—tickets for a movie she wants to see, a book she wants to read, gardening tools for her garden, a gift card to get a pedicure…Prove to her that what she says really DOESN’T go in one ear and out the other.

#3. DON’T get her something that “typical” moms like, if you know it’s not her thing. Some moms really don’t like flowers, chocolate, or jewelry—don’t get those things for your mother if you’ve never seen her wear a piece of jewelry, she’s on a diet, and flowers make her break out into hives. Also, don’t get her a gift that YOU want for yourself. No mom wants to hear, “Oh you don’t like video games? I guess I’ll have it then.” (She probably WOULD like a bottle of wine though…I mean, only if it’s her thing. 😉)

#4. She does not want to chauffeur you around on Mother’s Day. Don’t make plans if you don’t drive. (She also doesn’t want to entertain your friends on Mother’s Day, either. Don’t ask if they can come over.)

#5. She does not want to be the ones to make plans for Mother’s Day. Do not wake up on Sunday and ask her “what are we doing today?”. DEFINITELY do not ask her “What’s for dinner?”.

#6. She doesn’t want to do any of her “normal” chores on Mother’s Day—so the best present you could give her actually doesn’t cost a cent. Vacuum, clean the bathrooms, do the laundry, dust, iron, wash the windows, weed the garden, wash the dishes, and go to the grocery store. Sounds like a lot? Yeah, moms do a lot every day.

#7. She really doesn’t want anything homemade—if you’re over the age of 10. Put the crayon down.

#8. She want you to get along with your siblings…for just one damn day. It’s really NOT that hard…just don’t touch them. Or look at them. Or breathe on them. Or be in the same room as them.

#9. Give her a hug and kiss. I bet she wouldn’t mind hearing that she is loved and appreciated. (Don’t kick your brother while he is giving your mother a hug, either.)

#10. You know what mom wants the MOST? Let her sit and relax. Bring her a drink. Don’t annoy her or pepper her with demands. She gave up her body for you for 9 months and pushed your big head out. GIVE HER SOME PEACE AND QUIET. She deserves it.

What I Learned From No Alcohol March

So March is (almost) over. Thank God. I survived Alcohol Free March!

I love to challenge myself and my family. I’m a tad bit competitive, so I was slightly disappointed when hubby refused to participate in this with me (and I didn’t want the kids to participate since they would beat me—they’ve gone YEARS without a cocktail). Still, this was something I wanted to try to do and by announcing it to my Facebook followers and anyone else who would listen, I set myself up to being accountable not only to myself, but to hundreds of other people as well.

Why did I want to torture myself during one of the longest months of the year (and the month with the biggest drinking holiday to boot)??? Well, if I’m going to be really honest, it was because I don’t fit in my jeans and I wanted to lose 10 pounds. Without changing my eating habits or going to the gym more, of course. This seemed like the easiest way to shed some weight before bikini season (not that I wear a bikini). Especially since I noticed I was having a cocktail or two on almost a daily basis. Oh, the empty calories! While I didn’t think it was a “problem”, I knew it was becoming a bad habit, and it wouldn’t hurt to give up it for a month.

Surprisingly, it was a heck of a lot easier than I thought it would be to not drink, believe it or not (most of the time). I’m sad to report that I did not lose 10 pounds, but in the process, I learned a thing or two, which I didn’t expect.

  1. It is much easier to say no to a drink to begin with than it is to have a delicious bottle of wine sitting in front of me and only have one glass. Why is this? Probably the same concept of “you can’t eat just one potato chip” (which I actually can because I don’t like potato chips which is totally weird because I’ll take the potato in any other form…but I digress). I’m also convinced that once you have that first glass of wine, your inhibitions go down and you have “just one more” because the wine worked and you’re relaxed and don’t give a #$&*.
  2. I don’t need to drink when I’m stressed. It’s strange though since we all walk around and say, “Oh God, I have so much stress today, I need a drink.” We really don’t need it do we? We just think we need it. When I said I could make it through March without alcohol, the Universe said hold my beer. March threw a lot of crap at me—I almost thought I was being punked by the Universe. I knew a glass of wine would relax me, but I held strong and went to the gym instead. The endorphins made me feel a lot better than the wine would have. And it made me rethink the whole “I need a drink” talk. It makes us sound like raging alcoholics even when we’re not at all. I like wine, but I never need wine. I have coping mechanisms. You do too.
  3. Having alcohol in the house doesn’t make me want to drink it. (Having a half drunk bottle of wine does, though, which is why I finished the open bottle on February 28. It’s like I’m worried it’ll go bad or something.)
  4. Peer pressure doesn’t bother me…okay, maybe it bothers me, but I can say no to peer pressure. People sitting around drinking while I’m not doesn’t bother me either. Hubby actually asked if it would be okay if he had some Scotch. Um, Scotch? Gross. I did however lean in for a deep sniff the day he uncorked a bottle of my favorite wine.
  5. I’m not sure whether it’s because I thought that without drinking I had more calories to play with, or I have some sort of oral fixation, but I found myself eating  dessert almost nightly. A few times I hear myself actually say “I should have to ice cream tonight since I can’t have wine”. Up until about three quarters of the way through the month when I got on the scale and said, WTF???? After that, I started eating healthier. Or at least trying to. This is probably why I lost ZERO pounds. Which was kind of weird for me because I thought it would be the opposite…I incorrectly assured that I would have more willpower over food without alcohol. After all, how many times have you been out having a few drinks and all of a sudden loaded nachos are screaming your name at 1 am???
  6. The difficult part was dining out without alcohol. Having a drink when dining out has become a habit more than anything else. Once upon a time, we could rarely afford to dine out. And when we did, we certainly couldn’t order expensive drinks. The only drinking we did back then was at weddings and when we bought bottles of two buck Chuck. Fast forward many years later and we can afford a cocktail or two with our dinner out, and it’s become a need to order it because I can. Most of the time I only order a drink because we’re out…and I like the sangria at this place or the Moscow mule at another place, and I don’t want to miss the opportunity to have them even if I don’t actually want it. It’s like I have started to associate certain restaurants with certain drinks and I don’t think the place would be the same without them. You say Jose Tejas and I literally think Margarita and I must order it because how can I go there and not get their margaritas??? Hubby calls this “running up the bill”. You know how I broke that habit this month? Eating a lot of fast food. They don’t serve alcohol at fast food joints. Seriously though, eating at home was much easier. I don’t associate any foods at home with alcohol (maybe pizza and wine, but I could eat pizza out of a box while sitting on the sidewalk so that didn’t deter me from eating pizza).
  7. I didn’t save any money because I’ve bought at least 6 bottles of wine in the last month.
  8. Oddly, I did not sleep better, which was one of the “side effects” I was looking forward to. I had to take Z-quil quite a few times. This may have more to do with the dog waking me up in the night rather than the lack of alcohol.
  9. The headache I wake up with almost daily has nothing to do with red wine and everything to do with aforementioned dog. Or maybe it’s my sinuses. Either way, I can’t blame it on the alcohol.
  10. It takes 21 days to break a habit.

Sunday is April 1st. It seems anti-climatic actually. I thought I ‘d be dragging myself across the finish line with a bottle of wine and corkscrew in my hand, waiting till the clock struck midnight on the 31st, but I don’t think so. In fact, I think I’ll probably head up to bed around 9 with my friend Mr. Z-quil. Have I mentioned that stuff is the $hit? And good news, it’s non-habit forming, too.

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It Doesn’t Get Easier

The other day we had a snow day and before it actually started snowing, we all went out to breakfast at local diner. As we were sitting there waiting for our food, a couple with two little boys came in and were seated next to us. The little kids did what all little kids do when out to eat with their overtired and underappreciated parents—they climbed on them and begged for their phones and complained they were hungry and tired. The parents looked absolutely beat.

When we got up to leave the father of the two young boys asked me, “Does it get easier?” I looked him right in the eye and lied to him. “Oh, yeah, it gets easier,” I told him. I wanted the poor guy to have hope. After all, it’s the only thing that kept me going when my kids were younger…the idea that someday this parenting thing would get easier.

Because the truth is, it doesn’t get easier at all, does it? In fact, in some ways, it’s actually harder. You would think that when your kids are teenagers (and adults) you’re going to somehow get a break. And of course, you do. But for every break you get, you get a new problem.

Then: You don’t get any sleep because your kids are up at dawn.

Now: You don’t get any sleep because you’re up till after midnight waiting for them to come home.

Then: They fling themselves on the ground in the toy store if you don’t buy them the toy that they have to have.

Now: They throw a fit in the phone store when you tell them you’re not buying them the latest phone that they have to have.

Then: You fight with them about eating their breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Now: They eat more than a small country at every meal.

Then: You have to arrange playdates for them with moms you already know.

Now: You can’t really trust their friends and you don’t know their families.

Then: You have to drive them to practice, friends’ houses, the mall.

Now: They’re the ones driving.

Then: You have to buy diapers.

Now: You have to buy pads and tampons and explain how to use them.

Then: You have to beg them to shower.

Now: You have to beg them to get out of the shower.

Then: They cover their arms because they colored on themselves with magic marker.

Now: They cover their arms cuz they gave themselves hickeys.

Then: You need to find a babysitter if you want to go out without them.

Now: You don’t want to leave them home alone because they may drink your beer.

Then: They want to be a puppy.

Now: They have NO IDEA what they want to be.

Then: You have to lock up medication and chemicals so they don’t accidentally ingest them.

Now: You have to lock up medication and chemicals so they don’t purposely ingest them.

Then: They want to wear a princess costume to school.

Now: They want to wear a belly shirt and shorts that are wedged up their butt crack to school.

Then: You have to remind them four hundred times to do their homework.

Now: You have to remind them four hundred times to sign up for the SATs.

Then: You realize you can’t help them with third grade math.

Now: You realize you can’t help them with eleventh grade Advanced Chem.

Then: You dread going in their room because you never know what you’re going to find.

Now: You dread going into their room because you never know what you’re going to find.

Then: They don’t want to leave you alone.

Now: They don’t want to be seen with you.

Then: You cringe over the prices of preschools.

Now: You have a heart attack when you see the prices of college.

Then: School calls because they bit someone.

Now: School calls because they were vaping in the bathroom.

Then: They don’t ever stop talking.

Now: You have to play twenty questions to get them to say two words to you.

Then: You have to wait till they go to bed to watch anything good on TV.

Now: What they’re watching shocks you.

Then: They get in a fight with their best friend over a sticker.

Now: They get in a fight with their best friend over a boy.

Then: They splash water all over the bathroom floor and leave the cap off the toothpaste.

Now: They spray body spray all over the bathroom and leave the cap off the toothpaste.

Then: You have to have that uncomfortable “where babies come from talk”.

Now: You have to have that uncomfortable “please use birth control I’m too young to be a grandparent talk”.

Then: You find the remnants of their allowance in the washing machine.

Now: You find the remnants of their paycheck in the washing machine.

Then: It breaks your heart to see them hurt or sad.

Now: It breaks your heart to see them hurt or sad.

Then: They make you proud every day in some small way.

Now: They make you proud every day in some small way.

 

Why Having a Dog is Like Having a Perpetual 2 Year Old

My kids are 12 and 16. Old enough to sleep through the night on their own, too young to be out driving around all night. They don’t wet the bed and they rarely have nightmares. On the weekends, I’m the one waking them up, not the other way around. Still, I only get about 5 or 6 hours of sleep every night and that’s not even in a row. I’ve got that dull headache in the back of my brain most days—I’m walking around in a new mommy stupor half the time and I’m not even a new mommy.

Why in heaven’s name am I not getting at least 8 hours of pure and blissful sleep, you wonder? It’s because I have a 2 year old…well, sort of.

The problem has four legs and barks. And barks. And barks. Right in my damn face. Every. Single. Night. It’s like having a two year old. And I can’t even close the door and pray he stays in his crib like I would if he was an actual two year old. Nope. He’ll just bark. And amazingly, no one else will ever hear him. 

He wakes me up with such thought and consideration for everyone else in the house—it’s as if he doesn’t want to bother them. In fact, he doesn’t want to bother them EVEN IF THEY’RE STILL AWAKE! He will actually trot past my husband to come wake me up out of a sound sleep. He creeps to my bedside, puts his cold snout next to my ear and lets out the most muffled little woof you could ever imagine. It’d actually be kind of cute if I didn’t want to duct tape his jaw shut or if he was barking to wake up someone else. He knows mommy is the sucker who’s gonna always get up for him. I mean, the kids have been known to actually ignore the poor guy in the middle of the day when he’s standing by the door barking. I guess I would go for the sure thing, too.

He also has an incredible knack of waking me up at the absolute worst moment, too. Like a half an hour before my alarm goes off, so that even when I get back to bed, I can’t really get any more sleep, can I? Why can’t he wait a half hour to smell where the cat next door peed on the bushes? I’m always hissing at him to hurry up and come back inside, but His Highness cannot be rushed. Yelling at him just makes him prance around more. He knows I’m not coming outside in my pajamas and slippers. And what if he gets skunked in the night? Ugh! I’ll never get back to sleep then—bring on the tomato juice and nose plugs.

Anyhoo, even when he’s not waking me up to go potty in the middle of the night, he’s like a toddler (he’s 7 by the way). He plays with his food for hours before he eats it. He has no concept of personal space or boundaries—he’ll crawl into my lap when I’m trying to read (he’s 100 pounds) and forget it if you happen to have a skirt on (I hope you like a wet nose on your underwear).  Clean laundry doesn’t stay that way for long—he just scatters that around the house. Safety shmafety. He has no concept of danger—if we’re going in the car, he gets so excited that he nearly breaks a hip flying down the staircase. And never mind putting a leash on him—I have nightmarish flashbacks of trying to shove my son in his car seat while he kicked me in the boobs. We still have to barricade rooms in the house because the dog will wander in there and pee if he’s mad at us. I have to leave Paw Patrol on for him to watch when he’s alone. Anything that falls on the floor, he thinks is food (even dish detergent pods for the dishwasher). I can’t leave gum in our jackets or my purse because he will chew a hole in the pocket to get to the gum. We have child proof locks on the garbage and the cabinets…for the dog. If he could take his clothes off and run around naked like most two year olds I know, he’d probably do that too.

And these clowns I live with keep pressuring me to get a puppy. A puppy! Asif. I haven’t lost my mind yet! Of course they want a puppy. They’re not the ones who have to clean up the entire roll of paper towels that he’s shredded or pick up all the coffee grounds he dumped out of the garbage. They’re not the ones getting up in the middle of the night to let him out or the ones who have to buy new bookbags after the dog chews a hole in theirs (trying to get any food they my have in it).  They’re not the ones cleaning up the puddles he’s created from splashing in his water bowl. They’re not the ones chasing him around the table, trying to get my shoe out of his mouth. A puppy! What comedians! At this point in time they’re better off asking me for a new baby. At least they grow out of the terrible twos.

Failing Parenthood

I’ve failed at many things in my life, some major, some very minor and negligible. Even when I’ve failed at something that really doesn’t matter in the long run (burning dinner, for example), I feel a profound sense of inadequacy. Then I try to take a positive spin on it—determined to learn something from it or make the failure meaningful in some way (Like writing a blog about my cooking misadventures).

But every once in awhile, I feel so inadequate about my failures that there doesn’t seem to be any way to spin it. Like right now. I’m listening to my preteen sob her heart out and there’s nothing I can do or say to make it better. I’ve failed as a parent and there’s no worse feeling than that.

My preteen is crying because she’s disappointed and crushed and fearful all at once. She suffered from severe anxiety (still does) last year and had a difficult time in school. A difficult time getting work done, despite the fact that she is a creative and intelligent child. She had a hard time getting up in the morning, getting and staying motivated. She would run away from her problems instead of facing them, making them worse in the long run. She had difficulty coping with stress, dealing with organization, and making friends. She lacked confidence and a drive to succeed. We tried to help as much as we could, but it was frustrating and emotional for us—our oldest child never went through anything like that and we felt powerless to help her. We listened, we yelled, we sent her to therapy, we put her on medication, we hugged her, we cried with her. We did what we could, but maybe it wasn’t enough.

But despite all that, despite the obstacles that she had to overcome, she started off this school year as a new person. Her true friends rallied around her and helped her pull it together. She was confident and she smiled again. She sang in the shower and danced in her room. She was involved in school clubs and getting her work done. We cheered to ourselves, so proud of her and the mature girl she had become. We were stupid enough to think that the anxiety was just a phase, that the hard part of parenting her was in the past.

And then, just like that, she fell apart this week. All of her past fears came together this week in a perfect cocktail that sent her over the edge—a missing assignment, a bad grade, a falling out with a friend, bullies. She refused to go to school. She wouldn’t face her fears—instead, her defense mechanism was to bury her head in the sand until it went away.  And regardless of the fact that we tried to help again…tried to listen, tried to boost her spirits and make her feel better, we couldn’t do it. We failed…I failed.

I’m her mother. I was a 12 year old girl once, too, with all the feelings and insecurities she is going through now. I didn’t feel smart enough or pretty enough or skinny enough or enough of anything at her age. I felt stressed and overwhelmed. I dealt with bullies and isolation. I thought my life was the worst ever and I fell apart too. But I didn’t run from my problems. I pushed through as best as I could. And I survived.

I should be able to help her pick up the pieces. I should be able to make it better, simply because I was her thirty years ago and I made it through middle school—a little scarred, but in one piece.

And yet, I still can’t. I can’t make it better and take away the hurt as much as I want to. She has to discover her self worth and her strengths herself. No matter what I do, no matter what I say, it’s not going to change that. I can’t shield her from the misery of middle school, the pain of becoming a teen. And that is my biggest failure as a mother, one that I can’t change or put a positive spin on no matter what.

 

We’re Not Getting Each Other Anything for Valentine’s Day…and Why I’m Okay With It.

Hubby announced today that I shouldn’t expect a gift tomorrow on Valentine’s Day, which is no surprise to me. I actually started writing this blog before he even said that—this blog is my gift to him. This Valentine’s Day we will be married twenty years, eight months, and one week. We will be together for twenty-six Valentine’s Days. After that amount of time (and actually wayyyyy before this point), you start to realize that Valentine’s Day is nothing more than a Hallmark holiday that you don’t really need to be part of—Valentine’s Day isn’t a holiday meant for you anymore.

Because after twenty-something odd years…I don’t need a card to tell me you love me. You tell me you love me when you go to the grocery store and actually put the groceries away before I get home. I don’t need a box of chocolates to tell me I’m yours…you tell me that when you chase me around the kitchen table trying grab my butt. I don’t need a dozen roses to make me feel special…you make me feel special when you let me nap on you, even when you have to get up to go pee. I don’t need jewelry to know you care…I know you care when you drive two hours to replace a Christmas ornament that the dog broke. I don’t need a lobster dinner to feel amorous…oh, who am I kidding…I do need the lobster dinner. I just don’t need it at a restaurant ON Valentine’s Day with every other couple on the planet. I don’t need to post every grand gesture on social media for all the world to see—and I don’t have the expectation that you’ll even make some grand gesture just because the calendar says you should.

Valentine’s Day is every day when you’re with the right person. I realize that statement may make you want to throw up in your mouth a little, but hear me out. It’s not mushy, over the top, make other people want to vomit sort of gestures. It’s all the little things that make living with a person (who snores like a truck driver and farts in his sleep) worthwhile. It’s getting up with the kids on Sunday morning so that the other person can sleep in. It’s scraping the snow off her car so she doesn’t have to do it before she rushes out the door to work. It’s knowing she had a bad day and bringing her wine. It’s knowing he had a bad day and bringing him donuts even though you totally shouldn’t do that because he’s been meaning to cut back on his donut consumption but you know the donut will make him smile and damn it…you want him to smile. It’s sitting with the sun in your face at a restaurant because you have sunglasses and he doesn’t, and you know he’ll get a headache with the glare. It’s dragging yourself off the couch at 11:30 at night to go pick up your teen from a friend’s house because your wife is too tired to function (and has been in her pajamas since 8:00). It’s ignoring the dirty dishes in the sink that you just cleaned because you don’t want to start a fight over something stupid. It’s folding his clothes even though he’s a big boy and he can do it himself. It’s lunch delivered to your job on a random Thursday afternoon. It’s cupcakes baked for his entire work shift, just because. It’s not about spending exorbitant amounts of money on materialistic things, it’s about the little things. I don’t want him to tell me he loves me on Valentine’s Day with an empty gesture—I want him to show me the other 364 days a year with the little things. Sure, that’s not what they do in books and movies—in books and movies, it’s grand gestures that get the girl.

Guess what? Romance in books and movies is not real. People base their romantic expectations on movie boyfriends that always turn out perfect in the end, and it sets you up for disappointment in your actual life. That kind of relationship not only isn’t real, it’s not sustainable. Sure, being jetted off to Paris for the weekend can make a girl swoon, but is it realistic? Do you really want that? Wouldn’t you rather he get up with a crying baby in the night? How romantic would that be? Maybe he got you diamond earrings for Christmas, but wouldn’t a foot rub really hit the spot? Or maybe you got two dozen roses and an acapella quartet delivered to your work for Valentine’s Day, but wouldn’t you prefer a guy who gets your oil changed without you begging? Now that makes me swoon.