my brilliant plan for your life (a valentine's reflection).

Flickr Creative Commons: mywonderland1
Flickr Creative Commons: mywonderland1

Even though the HBH (Hot Black Husband) can dance till the cows come home, he isn’t the most holiday-spirited dude on the planet. So when such a day – like this past Saturday, in all its glittery, pink and red, heart-adorned, Americanized glory – arrives, his response is usually the following: But shouldn’t we celebrate love every day?  

Yes, yes we should.

(See also: But shouldn’t we celebrate Christ’s birth every day? Shouldn’t we celebrate our independence everyday?  Each sentence takes on various fill-in-the-blank forms, given the intended celebration).

So when the day dedicated to Valentinus rolled around, it seemed to catch both of us by surprise.  We’ve been up to our eyeballs scouring Craig’s List, Zillow and Hot Pads, looking for a place to call our own twenty miles east.  This resides alongside a baby who thinks 4 am is a perfectly decent hour to commune, and a two-year-old whom I believe really is part monkey with his Hulk-like climbing skills.  But we did manage to go on a hike, all four of us, that morning and look at a potential house and hit up the grocery store.

Since I consider it a minor miracle to simply leave the house,  I’m pretty sure Jesus arrived in flesh and bones that day.  

When dinner time arrived, Cancan got a plate of ketchup, with Dino Nuggets and french fries on the side.  Frodo, who’s five months old, got a bowl full of prunes puree’, and the HBH manned the fort outside kitchen walls.  Pinterest remained far from our mantle,  and there weren’t any construction paper hearts, anywhere.  The decorations I bought “to season the house, year-round!” continue to sit in a box in the garage, hopeful for wall space next year.  We didn’t make Valentine’s for our friends or for each other and we didn’t bedazzle the kitchen tile with red sprinkles nor the cupboard doors with white frosting.  I’m also pretty sure Christmas was just here yesterday, so giving gifts and receiving gifts, really wasn’t on our radar.

Truth be told, there wasn’t anything that separated this day from any other day.   

And according to the Wife and Mama and Friend Rulebook, isn’t this supposed to be high on my list of to-do’s?

Not when you’re in pure survival mode, my friends.

Not when you feel like you’re still trying to figure out the laws and physics of motherhood, the ins and outs of the publishing industry, the rules and regulations of loving others – including your spouse, your partner, your other – well.

But we did do one thing.  And what I’m about to tell you is none other than Cara’s Brilliant Game-Changer of a Plan for Your Life.

So, are you ready?

Get out a pen and paper and write this down.  Tape this to the front of your forehead and stick a magnet on it, fridge-side:

We put the kids to bed and ate dinner alone.

I know, brilliant.  Who knew?

I put Frodo down, and he put Cancan to bed.  Since our older son’s nightly routine takes a little while longer, I then went downstairs and made dinner.  As much as we too wanted to partake of ketchup, Dino Nuggets and french fries, we actually ate an uninterrupted meal of salmon and quinoa, asparagus and Pinot Noir.   We ate from a cheese plate, complete with jeweled cheese knives and cutting board, and we gorged on red velvet cupcakes (from the local bakery, because again, no bedazzling the kitchen tile for me).

We had a tablecloth – a tablecloth! – and candles – candles! – and Chris Botti played on the Pandora station until the Little Woman Living Inside the Radio Station interrupted us with a plea approximately 180 decibels higher to purchase our loved one a car for the most loving of holidays.

Now, this is where I insert a picture of the evening.

I show you the table, complete with filtered food-porn shots.  I pridefully boast of the selfie of Me and the HBH, the lone one we show you after ten different poses were taken in order to make sure our Endless Love was properly captured.

But I don’t have any pictures to show you, because sometimes a night is so good and real and perfect, you don’t need to prove it to anyone else.  You can leave your phone in the other room, where it should be anyway, and you can just enter into the evening, fully alive, fully present.

So, do it.  That’s my brilliant plan for your life …and it’s our brilliant plan to incorporate once-a-week in the year to come.  Hold me to it, will you?

xo, c.

So, WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL ME ABOUT THIS BLESSED THING CALLED EATING AFTER YOUR KIDS GO TO BED?  Whether your children are two, twelve, or twenty-five, I bet you can work this into your schedule.  I bet you can do it.  In fact, I bet we can do this together.  In this with you, in this with you indeed.

15 thoughts on “my brilliant plan for your life (a valentine's reflection).

  1. you know, I’ve often wondered why you two didn’t eat after putting the boys to bed, but as I was the single-no-kids-one I figured I didn’t know what I was talking about (or more specifically, thinking about). Here’s to more dinners at home while the boys are dreaming!

    1. Haha! Well then, girl, ask away!! 🙂 Certainly, there are good reasons for eating as a family of four: family dinners, the boys see us eating a variety of foods (and thus learn the same), and it’s time together. And the HBH always desired to finish eating before 7. But otherwise, we’re entering in at least once a week!

      Cara Meredith

      writer, speaker, musician.

  2. I need to make this happen on a regular basis. Our date night options in our tiny town are meager, so we haven’t been on a real date in… months? Not good, and I don’t even have a newborn to blame it on!

    1. Sarah, I was surprised at how MUCH this felt like a date night, even though we didn’t actually leave the four walls of our house. Do it!

      Cara Meredith

      writer, speaker, musician.

  3. Lovely. Brilliant. But good luck with the once-a-week thing. I say just grab it when you can! And good luck with the house hunt, too! Hope to,see you when you come and speak at The Well.

    1. Yes, keep asking me if it’s happening ….even if it technically doesn’t end up being once a week. 🙂 Of course you’re on my list for Oregon time; we’re there until the 4th!

      Cara Meredith

      writer, speaker, musician.

  4. “But I don’t have any pictures to show you, because sometimes a night is so good and real and perfect, you don’t need to prove it to anyone else. You can leave your phone in the other room, where it should be anyway, and you can just enter into the evening, fully alive, fully present.” Yes! Well said, Cara. <3

    The Mr. Man and I don't have kids but I could still relate with the tablecloth and candles being novelties and listening to Pandora (and, yes, the ads are always at a different volume!). You didn't need to grab you phone because you captured it here, in your post. And, personally, I think that's a lot better than the couple's selfie. 🙂

    1. Oh Kelsey, thank you. 🙂 And no matter whether you have kids, I think it’s too easy to slip into the monotony of routine, forgetting intentionality. Here’s to remembering date nights, no matter the stage.

      Cara Meredith

      writer, speaker, musician.

  5. “But I don’t have any pictures to show you, because sometimes a night is so good and real and perfect, you don’t need to prove it to anyone else.”

    And that line alone tells me you ended up having the perfect Valentine’s Day, Cara.

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