Happy Valentine’s Day to me…
This is the gift I received today:
A burning, bilious ball of boy.
All that time Gwyneth was at home off work, not once did this boy so much as snivel. Now Gwyneth is away, the boy has become part of the living room furniture; permanently sprawled, supine, sofa-stuck.
And I’m a soft shite shambles of a mother.
I just cannot bundle. Cannot gather and galvanise. One look at those blood-shot eyes, one touch of that scorched brow and instead of persevering, driving him to school and hoping for the best, I surrender, getting him back into pyjamas, under blankets, in front of screens.
Today should be all about Gwyneth, my nineteen years-long Valentine. After months of wooing with mix-tapes and meals, I finally succumbed to his Nottingham tones on Valentine’s Day, 1998.
I’d been away the night before, to end a relationship with a smashing fella (I know, on Valentine’s Day – classy) because despite not being sure about Gwyneth yet, I knew he was the more smashing of the pair.
Ah, the pleasures of multiple choice!
Arriving back at my flat, late on Valentine’s Day night, there on my doormat were fourteen cards. All from Gwyneth. Though he denied it.
I went to bed, thinking about him, still unsure. (This was pre-texting, when one could allow one’s feelings to gestate for a time rather than immediately sharing one’s thoughts via emojis and gifs). In the morning I rang him. And that, as they say, was that.
Every year since, he’s sent cards:
And today’s haul, like every year, includes one which reads:
And every year he swears they’re not from him.
Today’s collection includes some added extras like the price:
Ah, romance is all about the little details!
So, he’s not here to celebrate/commiserate our nineteenth year. My date for tonight is a sweaty, snotty six-year old.
This isn’t wholly inappropriate for Valentine’s day seeing as St Valentine himself isn’t all about the love and marriage. He’s also the patron saint of the plague (which is surely what youngest has got) and of fainting (which I shall be doing later after a bottle of medicinal wine).
But please do not pity me.
As any long-time-together-couple-with-kids will tell you, the chances are that you will spend Valentine’s Day in the same mood you’ve been in with each other since you had the kids and became instantly KNACKERED, HUNG-OVER and EXISTENTIALLY CONFUSED all the time.
You know better than to attempt a night out together surrounded by younger, happier couples who have yet to understand that true love is a load of washing completed to the point of being returned to drawers, is a can of de-icer magically appearing in your car just in time for the first frost of the year, is a text to say there’s enough money in the account if you need to get some wine, is a Saturday morning announcement that you are to stay in bed darling and read the papers while I get you a cup of tea.
But most of all, true love is your partner doing all of the above without any expectation of being rewarded with sexual acts. That contract gets ripped up after around two years together. By year nineteen, their reward is you being momentarily less furious with them, or if they’ve truly surpassed themselves, a teeny hug.
May your evening be full of love that is as true or as false as you desire…❤