Multiple Valentines
February 12th, 2010

Like most people, during my childhood I didn’t fully appreciate the wisdom my mother had to offer.  I was quite confident that the thirty years that transpired between her childhood and mine had seen the world change in sizeable enough ways that she could not possibly relate to my tortured adolescent soul.  In retrospect I realize that… I was wrong.

This is a week ripe with advice from my mother.  On Wednesday I told you about her philosophies on trying new foods (which I conveniently extrapolated out to an application to life in general).  Today I bring you her philosophy on relationships.  That philosophy is:

We have different people in our lives for different reasons.  No single person can fulfill all your needs.

She went on to explain to teen-aged me that we are multi-faceted.  We are complex.  We are nuanced.  And we change over time.  It is unrealistic and unfair to expect that any single person would fulfill all of our emotional and companionship needs.

Most of us live this philosophy out on a daily basis without thinking about it.  If I need career advice I go to GAP or my girlfriends from business school.  If I need recipe recommendations I go to my mother, sister, or Aunt B.  If I have parenting questions I go to my group of mommy friends (coincidentally also the MBA friends – we are smart mommies).  If I’m feeling overwhelmed and need perspective and objectivity, I go to my father.  If I need a laugh, or affirmation, or to be challenged I go to GAP.  And if I need to see an unapologetically overcast romantic comedy on opening night, I have someone for that too.

Tonight, which is for much of the world behaving as Valentine’s Day, I have a date.  But it is not with GAP.  GAP has a date with IEP wherein they will stay at home, babble loudly at each other, wrestle on the bed, make big splashes in the bath, and read Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? for the 478th time.  They are both quite jazzed about the whole affair.

My date, on the other hand, is with our friend Robert (not his real name).  Robert loves a good romantic comedy.  Robert loves seeing movies on opening night.  And Robert LOVES anything featuring Jessica Biel.  Tonight’s date was meant to be. 

I am excited for this date for a number of reasons.  I am excited that I don’t have to drag GAP to a movie that does not interest him whatsoever (and then listen to him chortle sarcastically at what I’m certain will be a silly plot with even sillier dialogue).  I am excited for a big fountain Coke and box of Milk Duds.  I am excited to hang out with Robert, who is fun and funny and one of my favorite buddies.  I am excited that I don’t have to go alone.  (Going to movies alone is a wonderful experience.  But seeing “Valentine’s Day” alone is too much, even for me.)  I am excited to be doing something fun and festive on a Friday night.  And perhaps most importantly, I am excited that GAP and I are confident enough in each other and comfortable enough in our marriage that we are happy to see each other’s needs met fully, even when we are not the ones to meet them.

On Saturday night GAP and I will have our own Valentine’s Day celebration.  The tentative plan is to dust off the fondue pot that we purchased years ago and have used roughly twice.  We will sip red wine.  We will talk about books and politics and upcoming travel plans.  We will pop in a movie.  And we will curl up on the couch and feel happy to be at home together on a cold winter night.

I am not typically a big fan of Valentine’s Day.  But this year I’m quite looking forward to it.  I have two dates with two people who serve completely different purposes in my life.  It is a blessing and relief to have multiple Valentines.

7 Responses to “Multiple Valentines”

  1. Anne Says:

    You said it, sister. Looking back, I’m always so impressed with the way Mom never isulted our intelligence with trite advice…this one in particular is a gem. I have multiple “dates” this week with different people, and am grateful for that as well. I hope you AND GAP enjoy your evenings, and enjoy a very sweet valentine’s day.

  2. Eva Says:

    It’s so true, isn’t it? We don’t fully appreciate or believe our parents’ advice until adulthood. I think your mom is pretty accurate with this one. It’s also a good reminder to cut our spouses some slack – sometimes they just can’t be all things to us. And having many vibrant relationships is important for our happiness (although this is something I need to work on).
    Happy Valentine’s Day – #1 and #2!

  3. Elizabeth @ Life in Pencil Says:

    This is a great post, Gale. Your Valentine’s Day fondue party sounds so nice to me (especially the red wine part – sigh). And, I love the idea of having a “movie buddy.” I feel the same way you do: I don’t want to drag Maikael to movies that I know he won’t like, and I know he’d rather stay at home. But I haven’t found that perfect “date” yet for that reason. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  4. TheKitchenWitch Says:

    OMIGOSH!!! You have a friend who will see this with you? Hubs and I have seen the trailers and I think the cast is too good to be true, and it got a “meh” review in our paper, but DAMN, I am jealous that you are seeing it with a friend this weekend!

    I expect a full review, Miss.

  5. Ten Dollar Thoughts » Blog Archive » Five Dollar Post: Date Night Reviewed Says:

    [...] whole evening was further evidence that my mother’s theory on relationships holds true. Comment (RSS) [...]

  6. john cave osborne Says:

    but gale, what about oprah? surely she’s an exception to your mom’s rule, right? surely she does, indeed, serve as all things to all people, correct? pls advise. i’m confused.

    your valentine’s day weekend sounds like a great one. Lovie and i had a date on Sat and tomorrow (mon) we’re going to kick it at a cabin in the mountains. without any of our twenty-one kids. (we desperately need it!)

  7. Gale's Mom Says:

    I just love how smart I’m starting to look. It’s taken some time, but it’s still gratifying. (And, as usual, I’m grateful she doesn’t write about the (numerous) stupid things I said.)