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What Valentine's Day Is Really Like for Parents

We all dream of champagne, roses, a massage and maybe a sexy piece of lingerie, but that's far from the reality of a mother's V-Day.


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Photo courtesy of istockphoto.com // Geber86

I’m wearing the sexy bra, but it's underneath the shirt with dried spit-up on it. I have 15 minutes to transform haggard "just climbed around under the table trying to collect all the Cheerios" mom into hot "you know you want me" wife. Sigh

Of course, our Valentine’s Day date almost didn’t even happen.

I’d tried booking a couples massage at DePasquale in Morris Plains, but it seems the couples without kids who aren’t battling colds, running carpools and repinning crock-pot recipes beat me to it. The earliest the salon could accommodate us was mid-March!

If we wait that long for time away from the kids, we’ll need couples therapy.

Good things there’s always Krogh’s, the brewpub near our house. Sure, I’ve had their Welsh rarebit 80 times, but it’s still delicious. And it comes with a side of a kid-free two hours.

Luckily, our babysitter is available too. Until something better comes along. But since she’s supposed to be here in - oh crap, 10 minutes.

So I straighten my hair, which thankfully I had time to wash this morning, and put on enough makeup to mislead the general public into believing I’ve gotten more than 6 hours of sleep since 2008. Phew.

Time to knock this Valentine’s Day out of the park!

Soon we’ve said goodbye to the kids and we’re on our way. And then we’re there. Yup, two minutes, that’s how close we live to our exciting, romantic, super-special Valentine’s Day destination. But at least we’re out!

Yawn. Too bad I’m exhausted from a day spent breaking up fights over the coveted see-through LEGO pieces, and chasing after a toddler who's determined to empty every box of cereal in our pantry the minute I’m not looking.

Must rally! Must have amazing night! Must rekindle romance! Must look deep into hubby’s eyes and remember the exact moment we fell in love.

Oh! Time to order our drinks. It’s Jack Daniels for him, red wine for me. He makes a toast and I’m totally listening, except my mind is wandering to whether the sitter has asked my preschooler to try on the potty yet.

Ugh, where's the waitress? I’m starving! The last thing I ate was a leftover crust of a grilled cheese sandwich from Panera around noon. Plus, isn’t it getting late? I mean, it’s already 8:00 pm. I turn into a 100-year-old woman at 10:00 pm.

Good, we’re finally eating. And I’m feeling a little romantic thanks to the dim lighting in here. Hold up, make that I’m feeling drowsy. Like, really drowsy.

But must stay keyed into this moment! My husband and I deserve…yawn…this time to reconnect on every level.

Is he really ordering another drink? Geez. That ought to go over well tomorrow morning at 7:00 am when all three of our kids jump into bed with us.

No, no more wine. It’s making me super sleepy. Plus, it made me eat this entire serving of chocolate cake.

But regardless, while we wait for the bill, there’s a brief moment where I gaze at my husband and feel so grateful. And lucky. I love him very much. We are back in the car soon, holding hands while we drive home. It’s nice. It’s not a night at a luxury hotel in the city, with champagne and roses, and I didn’t exactly take my husband’s breath away wearing a floor-length red gown, but that’s just not reality now that we’re parents. Cue the music from the Cymbalta commercial.

No! I refuse to feel like I failed as a wife just because I was tired at dinner (and wore jeans). I put on the sexy bra, only after wrestling it away from my 18-month-old, who thought it made a hilarious hat. The reality is that even on Valentine’s Day, I’m still the designated wiper of noses and butts, the preferred reader of bedtime stories and Children’s Tylenol labels; most definitely not a romance novel heroine.

But I’m also a woman who still wants to feel sexy and special underneath the snot-caked shirt.

It isn’t easy. And it’s stressful trying to please everyone. I can’t always tap into my inner Melissa Gorga when I want to. Or when my husband wants me to. It's Valentine’s Day after all. We’ll see how long I can stay awake!

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