There was once a college girl who threw a house party with her roommates. Early on in the evening, the front door opened and a guy entered with a few of his friends. He smiled at her as he stood on the landing, and she looked down at him from the top of the staircase. As they gazed into each other’s eyes, she asked him “Who the hell are you?”
And so a love story was born.
Jason and I are certainly not the most romantic couple. Our idea of a weekend away is touring free museums in Washington, DC (because, really, who gets to see anything when we take the kids with us, and…it’s free!) We prefer a night at home with the kids tucked into bed over dinner and a movie. We tend to say “I love you” as we hang up the phone only when one of us is traveling, and we typically do not exchange gifts that weren’t already vetted through our Amazon Wish Lists.
Love is many things, but it is not the big ones. It’s the culmination of the little things that mesh, scrunch, and pile up to form one, all-encompassing experience.
Love is sitting next to your significant other at the dinner table even though the sound of him chewing makes you want to stick forks through your eyeballs.
Love is alternating picks on the Netflix DVD Queue.
Love is buying his favorite flavor of Girl Scout cookies even though they are made with chocolate and she is allergic to it.
Love is recalling him discussing the unique and antique soap dish his grandmother had, and her attempting to replicate it at a ceramic arts center even though she has not one iota of artistic talent.
Love is him using said ugly soap dish every day, even when one was given to him by a relative resembles his childhood memory.
Love is her car parked in the garage while he deals with the elements in the driveway at 5:30 AM.
Love is listening to him explain the finer plot points of a Japanese Anime series.
Love is listening to her vent about politics, parenting, physical health, and society at large when what he really needs is sleep.
Even during difficult times, it’s still the little things that say “I love you.” It isn’t easy to shift from partner to caregiver, yet the spouses of cancer patients find themselves in that role.
When chemo makes her skin gray and hairless, yet he can’t be near her without holding her hand, love is there.
When drains need to be emptied and wounds need to be redressed, love is there.
When someone must be a physical barrier between the rough-housing kids and her while she recovers from surgery, love is there.
When hormone medication turns her from Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde and he doesn’t lose his cool, love is there.
When she cries because she can’t feel his hug, and he only holds her tighter, love is there.
When taking care of her becomes exhausting and he wisely uses the gym or hanging out with his friends after a hockey game as outlets for his stress, love is there.
On Valentine’s Day, we played our favorite dinner game, “Name Your Favorite.” We went around the table, and spoke about each member of our family and said one thing we liked about them.
“I like how cute he is,” Baby #2 said about Baby #4.
“I like when she plays with me,” Baby #3 said about Baby #1.
“I like how smart he is,” Baby #1 said about Baby #2.
“I like when he goes to school,” Baby #4 deadpanned about Baby #3.
“I like how patient he is,” I said about Jason.
We never got around to sharing what everyone likes about me. The kids were finished their meals and were ready to move on to something else. As I cuddled on the couch with the four of them and a stack of library books, I noticed Jason glancing over at us as he washed dishes. His expression confirmed what he likes about me.
How grateful I am for those little things.