Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. For single folks, it’s a day for love and romance; for us marrieds, it’s been there, done that, now hand me the damn remote.
If only we had paid attention. If only we had heeded the long-term side effects, printed in microscopic lettering on the back of those pink and red Hallmarks, that alerted us to the chances that love may eventually cause children.
VALENTINE CARD WARNING: If you think this card is overpriced, wait until you have to throw a party for a bunch of preschoolers tripping on high fructose corn syrup.
Luckily, my wife and I no longer need the greeting cards or the flowers. Our scale keeps telling us we definitely don’t need the Whitman’s Samplers. This all pleases my daughter because it means we can spend more money and effort (but mostly money) on celebrating her birthday which is also in mid-February. We think.
The exact date has become fuzzy. Over the past 16 years, our daughter has managed to manipulate and maneuver her way into what’s become a weeks-long extravaganza of dinners, cakes and presents in her honor. It all culminates in a months-long evasion from our credit-card companies.
VALENTINE CARD WARNING: Giving someone this card may lead to long-term altering of your time-space continuum.
We should have seen this coming. Our girl did her best to stretch that initial birthday out as best she could by arriving 10 days past her expected due date. Not an issue for me, but her international corporate executive mom expects her underlings (in this case, inner-ling) to meet deadlines.
When My Love's water finally broke, at 1 a.m., she believed she still had a chance to correct her soon-to-be baby’s course. On the way to the hospital, I clearly recall My Love confidently predicting six hours – eight, TOPS! – of labor.
"I'm going to make this mind over matter," she said.
Matter won 14 hours later.
That, my young couples in the throes of passion, should serve as foreshadowing for the first eight to 12 years of your life after the birth of your wee ones. They say time is relative and, in this case, your littlest relatives will never again allow you to be on-time for anything. A stuffed animal will go AWOL, a potty desperately will need to be found or – as was the case for us while trying to take our toddlers to an outdoor concert once – an emergency trip to the nearest Target will be needed when you unbuckle someone out of her car seat and realize she left the house without pants.
VALENTINE CARD WARNING: This card won’t make you go deaf or blind, though you may eventually wish it had.
Back to 14 hours of labor.
I can’t speak about the pain my wife went through all those years ago because, despite the loosening of standards and morals in every other form of modern media, I'm not sure I feel comfortable printing the choicest of words that came out of her mouth that day. I had never before heard some of them and, mind you, I went to a Catholic high school.
When it came down to the big moment, my wife refused the option of a mirror to watch this miracle occur. Smart move because the best miracles are shrouded in mystery and magic like turning water into wine or pig into bacon. Me, well, at one point near the final push I felt compelled to take a peek around the surgical drape. At that moment, I seriously wondered if maybe we should have instead opted to get a second dog.
The shock faded, enough that two years later we eventually had another child. That’s a tale for another time because, right now, I need to get to the store before the big holiday so I can pick up some fresh batteries for the remote.
-- A version of this was first ignored by the readers of The Stamford Advocate. Photo: Me