Valentine's Day becomes a totally different animal when you have kids, doesn't it? If I'm completely honest, I've forgotten what the last few were like, but I do remember the first one.
My husband (then boyfriend) was incredibly excited (I don't know) and woke me up at crazy o'clock in the morning to try and convince me to open my card and present. I - perhaps somewhat ungratefully - said no and told him to wake me up at a more sociable hour. I can't remember what time he woke me up again in the end, but there was a cup of tea and a card and a present and it was all very cute. There's a good chance there was sex at some point too, although I honestly can't remember. But I remember it being a nice day.
This year I was woken by an exuberant three year-old at 8am (it's really not fair that anyone gets to be that full of life and energy before 10am), who then proceeded to steal my phone and shout at me about Fruit Ninja while I was trying to take a shower. Then there were about ten minutes of alternately shouting at and throwing stuff in the direction of my husband (at one point I sprayed his bare foot with dry shampoo in utter frustration that he wouldn't just get the fuck out of bed) before he stumbled out of the room and went to get F, who was rampaging around his cot in a sleeping bag like a giant, hungry maggot.
I wanted to take the kids to the beach because the sun was kind of shining on and off and I'm working all week next week, so outdoor family time felt like a good idea. It stopped feeling like a good idea sometime between not being able to find my wellies and F emptying the entire fucking shoe cupboard all over the hallway. By the time we fell out of the house and into the car, I was pretty much done with the whole thing, but we got to the beach, parked and got out of the car and it was fucking freezing. Not only that, I'd neglected to put hats or gloves on either of the kids, my husband was wearing the thinnest jacket in the world and I'd left my earmuffs at home. Total mum fail.
We gallantly battled our way through the sub-zero wind chill and all piled onto the beach. Obviously it was far too cold for digging in the sand or any of the stuff that you normally do at the beach, so O and I ran off in the general direction of the sea and he dragged me into the surf. Which was fine for him because he was wearing a puddle suit and wellies, but my TU Converse knock-offs were quickly waterlogged and my jeans weren't faring much better. Still, we ran in and out of the sea for a while, then we headed back to my husband and F, liberated F from the pushchair and watched him plop straight down on the sand and shovel a handful into his mouth. After another half hour of general mucking about on the sand, we headed back to the car (it really was fucking cold - it SNOWED later) and O had a tantrum about the fact that I pressed the button at the pedestrian crossing. F fell asleep on the way home.
When we got home, everybody had lunch and grandma came to visit. My husband disappeared outside to clear a bunch of crap out of the garage in the snow and I flicked through a copy of Glamour. O ran maniacally around the house making a cacophony of random noises - after several failed attempts at playing board games - while F napped, then, after the kids had had their tea things got really romantic.
I went upstairs to clean the en suite shower room. It took me over an hour because, to be brutally honest, I haven't done it properly for a really long time. By the time I came back downstairs, it was bath time and O was already tearing about in his Batman pyjamas (complete with cape). F was doing anything but co-operate with the process of getting undressed and into the bath. Once in the bath he played happily for a few minutes before turning on the cold tap and scaring the shit out of himself. Story time was noisy and I don't think anybody was really listening. O cried when he went to bed. He does this almost every night at the moment the door closes and nobody knows why. F threw his bear at me three times.
Now my husband is cooking bruschetta and I'm sort of watching The Big Bang Theory in my unicorn joggers and a jumper I probably really need to put through the wash, which goes to show how much effort I can be bothered to go to after a whole day of constant questions and crying.
So, it hasn't really been a particularly romantic day, and it won't end with champagne and strawberries or sizzling sex. But I'm okay with this. If Valentine's Day is about being with and appreciating the people you love (and, for the sake of argument, we can pretend that it's not really about extravagant gifts and nookie), then I've had a pretty good day. And I don't actually like champagne anyway.