This Valentine's Day, there will be no candlelit dinner, no tiny wrapped boxes extended in the palm of a hand, probably no bouquet of roses. Hell, there won't even be the traditional heart-shaped box of chocolates I usually get (and love) from the Rite-Aid on the corner. I mean, David may bring them, but there's be no slim possibility of me ingesting them since I've been in the throes of a nasty stomach virus for the past three days.
Which is totally fine by me. I like the candlelit dinners and presents and nights in a hotel - in fact, I love them. But what I got for Valentine's Day this year was so much better than a soak in a fancy jacuzzi and a pair of earrings. I got trash cans to collect vomit rushed over to me whenever necessary. I got Tylenol slipped into my hand and glasses of water to swallow it, full of ice just the way I like it. I got someone to take care of the kids, all three of those wild, raving lunatics - to feed them dinner and put them to bed, and stay up with them when they wouldn't go to sleep, and wake up with them when they had nightmares and take the baby into the bathroom to steam-treat her cold when she couldn't fall back asleep at 2am. I got someone to take the kids to school in the morning and tell my Mommy friends I was sick and I could use a phone call. And then last night, I had it all over again, and better yet, a warm body to curl up with when I was achy. Despite the fact that I'm about as alluring as Typhoid Mary, the man did not pull away.
That is fucking love.
Put that on a Hallmark card.
"Because while I was puking my guts out over the toilet, naked, and I called for a trash can, you brought me one, and when you asked, "What do you need a trash can for?" and I said "PLEASE! JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!" you did, without any further investigation. Because of this and more, you are my Valentine."
It may not be what you dream of when you're young, but when you're young you're also mostly an idiot and don't know anything but what you see in movies. Its what I dream of now.
Happy Valentine's Day. May yours be vomit-free but still full of tender devotion.
Nicole is a parenting writer who contributes essays and articles for magazines like Parenting, Parents, American Baby and Babble. She lives in Brooklyn with three children, one husband and a morbidly obese goldfish.