The Look of Love

The whole babysitter dilemma situation always reaches a fever pitch on Valentine’s Day. This year, we’re dating at home. With coursework, housework, kids care and a cold coming on, I gave up trying. It was going to be impossible for the supply of babysitters to meet the needs of couples on a Friday night. Steve would have to settle for my cooking. I could serve our dinner after feeding the children and even light some candles. I told him not to bother with flowers and a gift this year. I wasn’t sure I was in the correct frame of mind. Mags told me I was in a rut. Possibly.

To celebrate the day in a smaller fashion, I packed lunches with heart-shaped sandwiches and cupcakes with pink icing. I slipped heart-shaped brownies into Steve’s briefcase with a sweet note. I am a good writer. Following Edie’s example, I brightened up and found a pale pink sweater to wear and even put on my pearls. Voila, I turned myself into a Valentine. For dinner, I made fried chicken and mac and cheese for the kids and put two drops of red dye into their milk glasses to make it festive. I always make them say what they love about their family and they groan before quickly giving some generic answer. After dinner, I let them watch TV while Steve and I ate alone. Junior made “kissy” noises at the doorway when I lit the candles and turned out the lights. I opened a bottle of wine and saut√©ed my best Steak Diane to serve with roasted baby potatoes and baby peas. I wonder why small food is considered more loving? Steve’s favorite chocolate cake was dessert for all of us. It was a lovely evening. No big declarations of love, just sweet little affirmations. Steve and I even got construction paper cards from the children.

After Daisy and Junior finally went to bed, I changed into a pretty nightgown and combed my hair. I excused myself and went into the kitchen to get the tray I had set up earlier for Steve and me. I placed a handful of Hershey’s kisses on a plate in a heart shape. I carried the tray with our drinks and fancy crackers and cheese back to the bedroom. We stayed up late watching Jack Paar and enjoyed Chi Chi Navarro ¬†dancing and singing Calypso. It was our floor show. Steve didn’t seem to mind the do-it-yourself romantic evening at home. There was no slow dancing but no babysitter to drive home and pay either. When I got up to refill our glasses, Steve slipped an envelope onto the tray. Inside I found an hand-written IOU for a night out. It was a great idea. We could pick our own night of love to enjoy and we wouldn’t have to share it with everyone else. I knew we could sleep in a little in the morning. I had told the children to play quietly if we weren’t out of bed when they woke up.

Everyone was in such a good mood the next day, I made heart-shaped pancakes. They were a little rough on some sides, but tasted great. Loosening my standards for the holiday gave love a whole new look.

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