I signed myself up to write a Valentine’s Day blog post this year, who knows why because we both know Valentine’s is not exactly huge on our radar as far as holidays go. But anyway, I’m on the schedule so I decided I would write you a letter directly. Letters are so much more personal, even if they’re public and all. And although our lives are hectic and we didn’t arrange a babysitter this Feb. 14, and we’ll probably celebrate with the four of us piled onto our bed re-watching the YouTube video of Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” (the censored version, obviously), the kids spreading their sticky, snotty affection all over us, I do really love you so much. Here are 10 reasons why:
1. Things change. I’m talking about bodies here. Yes, bodies change. Halfway into my thirties, I’m happy with who I am and how I look but I’m smart enough to know that I’m different than I was when we met 12 years ago, before two breastfed kids and a demanding life. (Remember when we had, like, nothing to do all day?) I love you because you think I am as hot now as I was then, or more so. I think you’re pretty snazzy, too.
2. Once, right after our second daughter was born, our wedding anniversary came along. Down the hall lay a tentatively sleeping 30-day-old baby and a demanding 22-month-old toddler. We were both exhausted, shell-shocked and possibly a little delirious. Going out to a fancy anniversary dinner at a hip Seattle restaurant was out of the question. Instead, we sat face-to-face on the floor of our messy house, a near-insurmountable pile of clean laundry between us. I love you because, as we sorted through mismatched Lilliputian socks and laughed at our crazy lives (I might have let out a sob or two, too), I knew I wanted to be nowhere else in the world.
3. I love you because you look really adorable in woolen beanies, and I want to become really successful so I can buy you a giant collection. What? You do.
4. I love you because your natural calm and quiet, your inborn Zen, is the perfect counterpoint to my loud, nutty angst-ridden symphony. And you only get tired of my super-sonic speed like, once a year.
5. When we first started dating, we were trying so hard to conform our contrasting personalities to each other just enough to make it work while still gripping fearfully to our independent selves. We went on a hike in the burning desert mountains, tramping past ocotillo, me panicked every step of the way about finding a snake, you as at home as could be. I love how we came across an abandoned armchair, sitting there in a parched-out ravine, cushion gnawed away, springs exposed, and while I flinched you grinned widely, spread your arms and sat right down.
6. I love you because you can always think up good captions for the New Yorker cartoon contests in the back of the magazine, and then we get each other going and laugh hysterically, and at least we’re smart enough to get the cartoons.
7. I love you because, while trying to brush our stubborn 5-year-old’s teeth, I just now heard you say from the bathroom, “There’s no trying, there’s just doing. Ask Yoda.”
8. You would encourage me in any dream I had, even if it was to dress up as Superwoman and open up a ladybug-rescue company (you know that’s currently Kid No. 2’s actual dream, right?). I love you for that.
9. I love how, even though last year you made a slight misstep and brought me a scratched-up, last-minute, 7-11-style coffee mug with a badly-printed cupid on it for Valentine’s Day, I can point out this misstep to you teasingly millions of times and (so far) you’ve taken it with panache. Oh, and wait ‘til you see what I’m getting you this year.
10. Even as other couples we know have struggled hard, have suffered and battled and fallen apart, we have stayed together. But more than that, we’ve stayed happy. It’s been hard to witness that not every couple lasts, not every family stays together in the same configuration we all thought they would. We’ve had our challenges, too, but I love how I’ve never once, not once in these 12 years, thought, ‘I’m done with this. I’m done with him.’ I love how we’re “that couple.” How our friends and family look to us and see a happy partnership, and they admire the hard work we’ve put in and what it’s become, and that, as much as anything, makes them believe in love, too.
In between school drop-offs and coffee binges, Natalie Singer-Velush is ParentMap’s Web Editor. In her former life she wrote for newspapers and once pumped milk in the bathroom of the King County Superior Courthouse while covering a murder trial. Natalie lives in Seattle with her husband, L, who still loves the wild of the great outdoors while she slightly prefers the safety of the interior, and their two school-aged daughters.