Apart from our wedding day, no day is expected to be as perfect as Valentine’s. The man was a saint after all, risking his life to marry Christian couples in the face of the mighty Roman Empire.

For centuries, lovers have exchanged gifts, confectionary and hand-written notes to celebrate their affection. So instead of simply  purchasing a card with a teddy bear on it, some chocolate brazils and scheduling a candlelit meal, why is it I feel obligated to don tacky red lingerie, an uncooperative suspender belt and bend over the dining table, licking my lips and declaring that I am the dessert?

With two kids and a muffin top under my belt, I thought my days as a wanton nymphet were over.  I suppose I can at least be grateful  my husband’s recent conversion to a macrobiotic diet rules out the mutually humiliating ritual of painting each other’s genitals with chocolate spread.

Instead of being force-fed oysters, which I was rather looking forward to, the four-course love feast he is planning, I’m told will involve an unseasoned avocado, steamed vegetables and spelt. I think they might look a little out of place amongst the fake rose petals, heart shaped napkins and red plastic champagne flutes mum added to my trolley at the supermarket, along with a stern warning to ‘keep the passion alive’.

To accompany the occasion, my husband suggested I might like to wear a dress. This in itself seems a reasonable request. However, when dining at home by ourselves I find the idea quite ridiculous. Back when we were first dating, it made sense. I spent my days submerged in narcissistic self- indulgence and would think nothing of enjoying a four-hour prep before appearing on his doorstep like Aphrodite from the sea. Now, however there is a window. Anyone with children will understand this timeframe. It’s the extremely brief interlude between putting the kids to bed and collapsing with exhaustion. If I do any more than simply peal off my biscuit encrusted tracksuit bottoms and pull a creased-not-quite-fitting-anymore dress over my head, there is a good chance he could be asleep, or drunk by the time I present myself, wobbling on a pair of scarlet, feathered mules.

If I make it down in time, and haven’t lacerated myself with a speed-Brazilian shave, and if Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing, interspersed with tandem toddler recitals via the monitor isn’t enough to offset the wine soaking through our spelt rammed stomachs, we might actually get down to it. Maybe even on the dining-room table, if we can work around the travel cots and kiddie car seats. The act itself will be hurried, not through passion but through fear of interruption. Demands for dummy retrieval, an urgent business call, or as occurred on one occasion, a canine nose probing an orifice, in search of chocolate spread.

The truth is, like most couples with young children, we’re exhausted. We’re lucky if we have time to remember to love each other, let alone write a note expressing it. However, this Valentine’s, along with the rest of the world, we will endeavour to rekindle the flame of love. Though chances are, it will be on a Peppa Pig candle.

Read more from Haley Hill in her bestselling novel ‘It’s Got to Be Perfect: the memoirs of a modern-day matchmaker’

7 thoughts on “Valen-tired-day

  1. Brilliant post & you’re so right! There is so much pressure to get everything “perfect” & just what is perfect exactly? I’ve brought my husband a Valentine’s present but haven’t wrapped it yet, (we’ve had a puking toddler to cope with the last couple of days while ferrying the non puking one round to her many activities) but it’s the thought that counts right? Oh & of course remembering that you love each other, think you’re spot on with that one.

  2. Love it…reading this I feel like you are a fly on the wall in my house! And what is it with Peppa Pig – I think there must be some subliminal marketing going on there as my 2 year old was hooked from the outset…and now I’m harassed minute by minute to put Peppa on the TV!

  3. Love it! I really like your blog. It`s true that most couples don`t have enough time for each other.Especially when they had children already. And what is worst is when your husband forget some special occasions because he is very busy doing other things around. I had experienced that I felt disappointed.

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