He had a work thing on valentines day, so She texted the day before and asked, 'valentines dinner tonight?' to which He texted back a gif of Phil Dunphy giving a thumbs up.
She enlisted the help of the two biggest kids to make their own dinner and as She was preparing and He was helping one child fall asleep, She peeked into the living room and said, "um, we don't have any butter - do you think it'd be weird if I asked the neighbors to borrow some and I'll just send the kids over through the path with a flashlight?" and He said, "I don't like that idea because of that coyote that was just caught behind the house. I'll just run to dollar general quick." And so She quickly jotted down a list that included not only the butter but also seven more items.
So the pots were bubbling and the oven timer was dinging and when the steak finally got tossed in the pan with the newly purchased butter, steam billowed out with a fierceness reserved for power plants. The kids looked on in shock and asked questions like, "is our house burning down?" and "is that what you wanted to happen?" She remained steadfast in her chef's tasks and cracked a window.
The kids ate their dinner which they helped create - chicken fries that looked like heart shapes if you really squinted and used your imagination about it, boxed mac&cheese, and boxed Red Lobster biscuits which was Valentines day treat enough.
As He and She cleared the table from the kids' mess, they poured cheap wine into glasses and plated their food and whispered 'happy valentines day' across the table.
And the kids ran between the rooms shrieking and sliding on the floors and pretending they were being chased. And then She said, "hey! be more quiet we're having a romantic date over here!" to which the little boy laughed in the way that little boys who think girls have cooties laugh while saying, "OMIGOSH!" and the little girl said, "oooooooooooooooh, why aren't you kissing then?!" And then the littlest girl woke up and gave everyone high fives for going pee in the potty and she hopped up on the bench to join the romantic date with plate full of chicken fries and ketchup. And only once did they have to check on the littlest of all the babies sleeping upstairs with his stuffy nose.
And in that house, on that night, and really everyday
there are loud noises
and toys in all the places they don't belong
and there is milk in the fridge and cereal and snacks in the pantry
and spoiled milk in hidden, lost bubbas and cereal and snacks deep in the couch cushions
and a child's name written in permanent marker on a bedroom door
and marks notched along the inside kitchen door frame as a homemade height chart
and there are booboos that need kissed and hair that needs brushed, and socks that need adjusted because they feel funny on toes
and there are books, lots of books; some that have the pages taped back together, and some that say, 'I see a red bird looking at me,' and some that can be read from memory
and there are pictures of two people who vaguely look like He and She but much younger, and much much more rested
and there are toilets that need flushed and mirrors that have tiny fingerprints on them and a faucet that has been leaking for the past two weeks
and socks that have no matches, and favorite blankies that must be found immediately lest a tantrum erupts, and chocolate candy that is hidden
and a big cozy bed that's meant for two but usually has at least one pet and a few children in it too.
and in every space between all that stuff
and all that mess
and all those giggles
and all those shared memories.
in that house.
in that family
there is love.
happy valentines day to you and your valentines.
and to mine,
forever and ever.
even when we get so old.