Jon Whittleby Shawn at Parenting
Moms, please do me a favor. Copy this blog post's link and forward it to your husband or partner.
I see what you're doing. You're standing over his shoulder while he's reading. Could you please give us just a few minutes?
Hmm. I see there are still a few of you lingering around. Look over there! Shirtless firemen offering massages!
Okay guys, now that we're alone I must tell you this: you've been screwing up in the romance department. I get it: the kids have turned your love life upside down. But the reality is you're the 75 billionth person in human history to become a parent. You didn't exactly tie a key to a kite in a lightning storm.
This leads me to Valentine's Day. (Yeah, I know, it's still a few weeks away, but trust me, you need the extra time to prepare.) Many of you write off as a Hallmark holiday. It's not a totally unfair assessment: 180 million greeting cards are exchanged on Valentine's Day; only Christmas is a more popular greeting card occasion. But let's be honest: Once you have a baby, Valentine's Day gets downgraded to the realm of Cinco de Mayo.
And so the slacking begins: Fifty percent of all Valentine's Day cards are purchased in the six days prior to the holiday. We've all been that procrastinating guy with the card and week-old daisies in the market checkout line, looking as sheepish as a Judge Judy defendant. But Valentine's Day is now more important than ever. It forces you to prove what we know is true: kids and romance can and must coexist.
The key word for Valentine's Day is special, which isn't a synonym for expensive or complicated. The Oxford American Dictionary defines special as "better, greater, or otherwise different from what is usual." To ensure that it's a special Valentine's Day, or that any date night out is special, follow my three-point plan:
Make it an event. It's the little things that upgrade mundane to marvelous. Planning a night on the town? Make an invitation and put it in the mailbox. Cooking dinner at home? Create a menu in PowerPoint (and get funky with the fonts and clip art). Movie night at home? Buy a strip of red carpet and put a "world premiere" sign on the front door.
Call it a surprise. Last year, my wife, Brandy, asked me what I had planned for her birthday. "It's a surprise," I said. She was immediately intrigued. But even if I didn't have a surprise planned, I would have said the same thing. A surprise implies planning, planning implies effort, and effort is special. The best part: you can wait until the last second to buy a present or make a dinner reservation. Only you will know you're a slacker.
Be honest with yourself. To those guys offended by the crass commercialism or societal pressures of Valentine's Day, I say phooey. The truth is you need this holiday. Left to your own devices, there would be no cards, flowers or chocolates-perhaps ever. Admit that Valentine's Day saves you from doing nothing.
Don't let this opportunity pass. I know you can do it, guys, because you already have. Your charm, sensitivity and powers of persuasion are the reasons you're reading a parenting blog in the first place.
Read more of Shawn's parenting blog
Jon Whittleby Shawn at Parenting