The Pizza Paradigm

I like to make things complicated and I love to go over the top.  If it were up to me everything would be healthy, fancy and made by hand or from scratch.  I would also like to write a book and run a 5k… and be an epic parent… and an gracious and loving wife… and a volunteer at church… and a great friend…and a gourmet cook …and…. anyone else exhausted just reading this?  Then allow me to tell you the lesson I learned last night over a valentines pizza.

Last night my husband had to work late, like 10PM late.  Nevertheless I was determined to find some space to connect, so we decided to share a very late Valentines Dinner together.  I got a Pork tenderloin which I was going to season with Herbs de Provence and then glaze in peach preserves and serve next to garlic roasted asparagus and pink champagne.  Fancy and Romancey, eh?

All day I found myself entirely drained by simply keeping up with the day’s tasks.  I had organized the preschool party and made 24 individual heart shaped mini pizzas for the kids.  Made pink pancakes in the shape of hearts!  Also, it didn’t help that my daughter painted the couch with vaseline when I wasn’t looking, no, that didn’t help at all.

By 8 PM they were both asleep and I surveyed my house, the vaseline couch, the pink pancake batter splats and the gold fish crackers smashed into the carpet.  It would be hard for me to relax and find my romantic place in chaos, plus there was the dinner to start on and candles to scatter and light.  I found myself with a decision, should I find my reserve tank, pull out all the stops and exhaust myself for the sake of Valentines Day?  Or could there possibly be another way?

I usually shoot over the top, and I’m learning that it drains me.  When it’s finally time for the party, the moment or the big reveal I have nothing left to give and no energy what I worked so hard to perfect.  The pork tenderloin would have put me over the edge last night so when I opened the fridge to put the milk away my solution presented itself.  There on a pan were three leftover, unbaked little heart pizzas.  So I preheated the oven, whipped up a simple salad and dust busted the goldfish out of the carpet.  Then I poured a glass of wine and picked up my book to wait for Kel to get home.  When he walked in 45 minutes later I had something in my heart to give him.  Making the pizza / tenderloin swap gave me margin and allowed time for me to recharge.

We ate our little pizzas, drank pink champagne and had two cupcakes a piece.  And I didn’t count calories or freak out about the piles of laundry visible just over Kel’s shoulder.  I just soaked in the moment, because it was rare and beautiful.  It reminded us of our sparky beginnings, the difficult middle and the sweet right now.  The evening was bathed in simplicity and contentment, perfect in its imperfection.

Preschool leftovers and ikea tea-lights scattered among plastic farm animals turned out to be the most simple, beautiful Valentines Day ever.  The pizza swap taught me a valuable lesson about living.  So often we think that our kids, friends and family need something over the top to feel loved.  Or maybe we feel like we need to show off through posting pictures of perfect decorations or expensive gifts.  We get wrapped up in the details and forget the people at the heart of it all.

In the end the people we love really just want a small gesture and our full presence and whole hearts.  If we don’t take it easy on the prep work and details, we will miss out on the beauty of the celebration, the huge smiles and the little moments that make up the full life we really want.

So I found a paradigm shift in little pizzas, and Kel bought me a new pair of Toms shoes too.  All in all, Best. Valentines. Ever.

5 Valentines Tips for Imperfect Marriages, like mine!

So its valentines eve and I just got out of a bubble bath where I shaved my legs and painted my toenails fire engine red.  Before you get too jealous know this:  There was a 2 year old and rubber duckies also in this tub and my bath lasted 6 minutes before my little man woke up from his morning nap.  But as least I will have red toes and mostly smooth legs for whatever tomorrow brings me.

This Valentines Day I am trying something completely 100% different and totally out of the box for our culture these days.  I’m not giving a thought to what my husband Kel will do or what I feel I deserve.  Instead I am focusing on giving love and loving others, in particular, my husband Kel.

We’ve been fighting a bit this weekend.. honest this whole month.  We went to bed last night not snuggling in red silk sheets and champagne, but back to back, with exhausted souls and fresh apologies on our lips.  There are a millions reasons for me to say: “Screw Valentines Day, I’m just not in the mood.  However, something in me feels that creating a special space for love and romance is vitally needed in our imperfect marriage.  So here are my 5 tips for imperfect marriages to creating a valentines day that might feel perfect to you.

1) Put it behind you and forgive:  Are you irritated and discouraged from a fight or a disappointment?  Are you struggling to communicate?  I’ll be honest, that’s where we find ourselves on Feb 13, but I’m endeavoring to leave that behind and pour romance all over the next 36 hours.  What we were doing isn’t working, so I am doing something new, something better.

2) Ready for this one?  Because it’s important:  Do something.  Yup, you won’t have a memorable valentines day if you write it off as stupid and irrelevant.  A lot of people will say: “we don’t need valentines day, we should be romantic and loving all year long.”  True concept, but are you doing that?  If your marriage is like mine, then you believe it but don’t act on it.  So do something: stay in, order a heart shaped pizza, write each notes, drink champagne and play boggle in bed- do something out of the ordinary for you.  Simple is good, Nothing is bad.

3)  Throw the concept of perfection, the high expectations and the expensive fancy notions out the window.  I have ruined at least 30 different holidays by setting my standards and expectations unreachably high and then focusing only on my disappointment.  I have cried when carnations weren’t roses, or the gift was too practical and not whimsical enough. Endeavor to see joy, love and romance in your day, come what may, and you will have a Valentines Day that is miles better than you’ve experienced in the past.

4) Get a little Lacy:  If you’re like me than you have a drawer of lingerie you got when you were first married, but never  EVER wear anymore.  I used to think that once I had revealed a sexy outfit that it was old hat and boring to my husband.  Turns out that’s FALSE.  Lacy and silky efforts = super sexy to husbands.  Red toes and smooth legs don’t hurt either.  And if you’re reading this and you’re a husband, most ladies love a new pair of heart boxers on valentines day.  It would make me giggle and move closer.

5) Speak another language:  And I’m not talking French, although that would certainly do it for me.  If you ever learned about your spouse’s love languages via this book or website (take the test here!) , then you know what I’m talking about.  Go back and implement that knowledge tomorrow, for example Kel’s love languages are encouragement and physical touch, mine are gifts and acts of service.  We are polar opposites.  When I think of how to love him, I tend to speak my own languages and get him gifts or do something nice for him.  I forget that a kind word or embrace would fill him up even more than a new iPad case or gourmet meal.  So as you plot your romantic plan of attack, speak their language and not yours.

Important:  Fathers do you want your sons to grow up without learning how to romance their wives?  Then don’t show her any romance tomorrow.  Mothers:  Do you want your daughters to grow up without an example of romance in a marriage?  Then don’t dance in the kitchen or kiss your husband over the kitchen sink.  Our romance, or lack there of, will speak to the next generations.

If your marriage is composed of two imperfect people, then it’s hopeless and beautifully flawed, as ours is.  We need valentines day tomorrow, and next week, and in April, we need it because we put romance next to last.

Bear with each other and forgive one another… Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful- Colossians 3:15

May your Valentines Day bring you simple, romantic and much needed space to connect and rekindle feelings left too far behind you on your marriage journey.