It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and I know what your valentine wants. It doesn’t matter that I probably don’t know her. I don’t need to know her. She doesn’t want heart shaped jewelry or stuffed animals. (I don’t know any women who ever wants these things.) She doesn’t want a heart shaped box of candy or an overpriced bouquet of roses. At least that’s not what she wants the most. Here’s how I know.
It all started with a simple poll of my friends via social media. I was genuinely curious. Most of my friends are moms, and I knew they would have good ideas. So I asked my question: What do you really want for Valentine’s Day?
The responses I got were so unexpected, I expanded my poll to other online groups. I had to know if other women felt the same. The answers I got were eerily similar to the first ones. Mama after mama echoed the same thing, as if they had previously agreed to vote alike for the sake of solidarity. Many of these women were strangers, though, connected by nothing more than social media groups, but they were saying the same thing.
I’d like to be alone.
I was shocked at the resounding sentiment. Are you shocked too? I know it sounds strange, but I think I know why. Please, hear me out.
Your wife? Your significant other? The woman who met you at the altar, who mothers your babies, who manages the office and the home, keeping kids’ schedules in her planner and in her head? The one who remembers all the birthdays and anniversaries and plans weekly menus and always knows what size clothes and shoes each of your kids is currently wearing?
That girl is tired.
She pushes through nights with sick kids. Her brain is set to multitask-mode at all times.You probably encourage her to take some alone time, to take care of herself. But she probably doesn’t do it often. She needs some rest. So she’s going to need you to step in and organize a break. To kindly kick her out of the house (or even leave her alone at the house) so that she can have a moment of peace and pampering.
The women that I talked to wanted simple things:
- a solo trip to Target
- a quiet cup of coffee on the couch
- a nap
- time to take a long, hot bath with no kid interruptions
- a manicure/pedicure
- a massage or facial
- a trip to the salon for new hair color or a blowout — which is just having someone else fix your hair. We aren’t talking tires here.
She doesn’t want a Valentine’s Day without you. Don’t misunderstand. If you usually plan a big night out (or in!), keep those plans. Schedule a babysitter and make reservations. Or order in and plan to watch a movie. And buy that girl a card. Even if you just write a few sentences about how much she means to you, your thoughtfulness will go a long, long way.
But think about this. On Valentine’s Day, would you like to hang out with the version of her that is frazzled and exhausted? Or do you want to spend some time with a woman who has had several hours to herself — to breathe, to eat a meal in peace, to take care of herself?
So if you aren’t sure where to start, here’s what you do.
Ask questions. Talk to your wife. See what she needs most. If you prefer a surprise, ask her sister or best friend for help with your plan. Find out what would make your wife feel most loved and cared for. Please don’t send her to the mall when the thing she needs most is a nap. She may end up curling up in the backseat of the car for a rest, and well, that’s not safe.
Make your plans. If possible, give her a minimum of four hours on her own. If she wants some time to herself at home, plan to take the kids somewhere fun. Make it an exciting Daddy-and-kids-only time. If she wants to do something that requires an appointment, schedule it for her. Buy a couple of gift cards for her favorite stores or coffee shop and have them ready to give her when you send her on her way.
Execute the plan. This is the fun part. Find a fun way to present the surprise. Maybe the kids can get in on this part. Wake her in the morning with the announcement that she is getting the gift of alone time. Let her know about whatever appointments you have planned. Give yourself a pat on the back. You, my friend, have done a great thing.
You are a Valentine’s Day hero.
Like I said, I don’t know your valentine. But I could probably tell you about her, just the same. She loves you. She loves her babies. She loves her role as a mama. She loves juggling all of the pieces of your busy family life. And Valentine’s Day is a chance for you to celebrate your relationship and everything she contributes to it. It’s a chance for the two of you to reconnect over a nice dinner and soft music. But please, before you do that, give her the rarest gift of all in a mama’s life. And I mean it in the sweetest way possible. Please, leave that girl alone.