Apparently journalists are suddenly concerned with the economic impact on America’s collective love life, because the buzz has been celebrating Valentine’s Day on a budget. It is unfortunate that my budget is not the same as Matt Lauer’s. Valentine’s on my budget would include borrowing art supplies from my children and crafting a card that would rival any second grader employed by Hallmark. Throw in a bag of Hershey’s kisses and a matching number from my very own smoochy lips and you’ve got Valentines on a budget.
My budget also does not include building space into my kitchen to house multiple sets of dishes and glasses used exactly once a year. I don’t care if these holiday themed dinnerware sets come from the Pottery Barn or The Dollar Store, you need a place to store them. Do you really pull out the red tinted glasses and heart smeared plates on the 14th or have I just lost my sense of romance?
The best budget and family friendly idea of the year is a romantic dinner for two at home, after tucking the kids snugly in their beds.
Sounds good in theory, but allow me to demonstrate a real life love fest.
5:30 pm – Throw several dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets in the oven. Put a pot of water on to boil for a quick Mac & Cheese side dish. While waiting for the water to boil, rescue Simba from the grasp of the dog’s jaws, inspect and sign homework papers, and throw the now clean laundry into the dryer. Take the dog outside because she’s chewing on your slippers and you can’t shake her. Answer the phone for the four hundredth time that night. While on the phone, go fetch the incessantly barking dog and free your sweet old neighbor who is trapped in her car.
6:00 pm – Get OFF the phone and scrape all black residue from the chicken nuggets. Salvage whatever over boiled water is left in the pot and quickly add the maccaroni. Finish mixing the mac and yell to your kids to set the table for themselves.
6:30 pm – Listen to reading homework; make sure the kids shower and brush; do the dishes; don’t kill the dog; mop the floor after scraping your slipper free from the sticky goo your daughter made in science class; go to the bathroom.
8:00 pm – Assign your daughter the job of setting a ‘fancy’ table for you. Make her promise not to lick each fork to remove dishwasher spots. Send your husband down to the corner market to get the cashews for the cashew chicken you are making.
8:30 pm – Tuck your daughter into bed, send your son to read, and take a much needed shower. Put the dog in her crate so she doesn’t push the bathroom door open and run off with your clean underwear.
8:40 pm – Tame your hair, paint your face, and dress in the first clean thing hanging in your closet.
8:55 pm – Snack on the burnt crisps leftover from the kid’s nuggets.
9:00 pm – Tuck your son into bed. Start cooking. Again.
9:30 pm – Serve a lovely cashew chicken dinner minus the cashews, because apparently there was a run on cashews this afternoon.
9:40 pm – Light the candles and take out the crying dog.
9:45 pm – Just as your husband leans into the flickering light of the candles to plant a big one on your lips, the dog freaks out because your neighbor decides he’s going to shovel. Again. Save the kiss for the later and grab the dog before she wakes up your daughter.
9:47 pm – Too late. The kids wake up and filter through to use the bathroom and get a drink. It’s an emergency of course. You can faintly see symptoms of dehydration in their eyes. Let them taste your cashewless chicken.
9:55 pm – Explain the importance of alone time between parents and threaten their lives with ten years of morning till night homework, year-round school, and a chore list that stretches to New Jersey and back.
10:00 pm – Throw out the cold and somewhat lousy dinner and go straight to dessert. Ensure your spouse that yawning and drooping eyelids are the latest signs of true love.
NOW, if the media are really concerned about America’s love life, they would just send their teenagers to our house to babysit for less than ten dollars an hour.