Once upon a time, Tony met me outside work with a bouquet of flowers. We walked along the waterfront and then feasted on a picnic of champagne, strawberries and chocolates as the sun set. It was Valentine's Day and we didn't have a baby.
Admittedly, not every year was quite so romantic, but there were often flowers, special restaurants and luxury chocolates. I'm ashamed to admit I'd frequently lament the lack of a small, sparkly, expensive object in a little box wrapped in a ribbon. Looking back, I had no right to complain.
In those pre-baby years, I had no concept of how lucky we were to have time to spoil each other. I had no idea that going out for dinner any day we liked would one day feel like a distant memory. And I definitely never thought that spending ages choosing what to wear, or even buying a new dress just for date night, would one day seem like the behaviour of a frivolous young girl with too much time on her hands.
Today is our second Valentine's Day together since having Milin. I can't remember what we did last year, but given that Milin was six weeks old, we probably spent the day in a sleep-deprived blur. I might not have showered, I definitely didn't wear make-up, and it's likely that we had cheese on toast for dinner.
What I am sure of though, is that we told each other we loved one another. Because even though life has changed immeasurably, this one thing hasn't. We might still need a commercially-driven celebration to remind us to tell each other how lucky we are, but just because we now have a baby, we don't love each other any less.
In fact, Milin has probably made us stronger. This Valentine's Day, we are celebrating being a family. We are thanking each other for being there for one another. I'm telling Tony that I couldn't have done this without him. I'm looking back and realising that bringing up a baby is the hardest thing I have ever done, but I've been so fortunate to do it with my hero and rock by my side.
Together, we've survived 13 months of looking after a little person who is totally dependent on us. We have discovered a brand new emotion we didn't know existed - the love you can have for a child. And, we've loved the experience so much that we're doing it all again. (Though admittedly I sometimes think we're a bit crazy for doing this so soon.)
One day, Milin will let someone else put him to bed, and we'll go out for dinner on Valentine's Day. It won't be this year, and next year we'll have another little baby in the house to look after on February 14. It doesn't seem to matter anymore though. Because this Valentine's Day, I'll be trying extra hard to show the two boys in my life how much they mean to me. And I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to be able to do that.
Happy Valentine's Day to all of you and yours. How will you be spending it?
- © Fairfax NZ News