February 13, 2012

Love in the Time of Appreciation

Happy Valentine's Day. I hope everyone is doing exactly what you want to be doing - whether you're shopping for chocolates, preparing a special dinner, buing sexy lingerie, or not acknowledging this "holiday" at all. I've gone back and forth with my feelings about this day for years. Some years, I'm all about enjoying it,  other years, meh.

This year, I'm all in. I've purchased little tokens for the kids and the Hubs, am making heart shaped brownies and my husband's favorite meal for dinner. However, being me, I allowed my chaotic thoughts to take me down the path of why do I need a silly red and pink 'holiday' to bring a bit of extra effort to my relationship tables? Why aren't I doing these special extras more often?

I'm not silly or idealistic (well...) enough to chastise myself for not doing the "little" things that make a big difference daily. I know some nights are Subway nights, some days, my Hubs drives me. absolutely. nuts. My kids irritate me, and I them. But.....

As midlife continues to swarm around and envelope many of us, I can't help but want to improve myself. Change the way I look at my marriage, my relationships with my kids and my friends. I want to be better. Not perfect, better. How easy is it to get lazy, check out of your marriage for a while because life is busy and let's face it, boring? It's so easy to forget old friends because life gets in the way. It shouldn't be (but can be) hard to 'work' on the very relationships that mean the most to us. So, I know, when I change the way I look at "working on it," it's actually quite simple.

How about changing "working on" my marriage to "nurturing" it. Change "making another damn dinner that no one will like" to making dinner to nourish the little people I love dearly. Change, "I would love to see her but I hate going out during the week," to "It'll be so nice to catch up with my girl."  I think it makes a big difference and I know it's worth the challenge.

I'm no Pollyanna - it is a challenge to remain in a state of appreciation. Especially when it is so darn EASY to only think about the yuk stuff? You know, the stuff that you hate about your husband? That stupid noise he makes when he eats pizza? Or that face your wife makes when she applies her lipstick - gross? Or how about his passive aggressiveness or her ability to tell the same story EVERY time you go out to dinner with friends. Stop with the red wine already!

I am challenging myself to live with appreciation. Appreciate the fact my husband makes the coffee every. damn. morning. Appreciate him for picking up the kids from practice. Appreciate him for being constant. Appreciating him for forgiving me my many, many mistakes.

And appreciating my kid's 'streaks of independence.' Appreciate their silliness, their youth, their naiveté, their joy and their constant questions. And my friends! My dearest, kindest, most patient and enduring friends. I hope to appreciate their love, sincerity, candor, humor and presence in my life. They bring me joy, I want to give it back to them.

So maybe aside from the flowers, professions of love and candy hearts, maybe Valentine's Day can be set aside as a day for a relationship check in. Kind of like a mammogram or a colonoscopy? Sounds dire, but most things worthwhile require lots of care, diligence and effort - all of which require some rooting around.