Tag Archives: husbands

Voices in My Head

www.melindawentzel.comI’m a writer, which implies that I spend a sizeable chunk of my day staring off into space or glowering at my laptop, stabbing at its keys in hopes of crafting coherent sentences on occasion. For me, the process of putting words on the page, virtual or otherwise, is never easy—which, of course, fills me with dread much of the time and leads me to believe that the universe hates me. What’s more, the allure of social media shows no mercy, consuming me like the ruthless beast that it is. And despite the fact that I know it to be a ruthless beast, I find it impossible to resist its wily charms.

Out of sheer necessity, I’ve devised a handful of strategies to help me be more productive—to concentrate more and dawdle less. Further, I’ve learned to silence the rumblings of doubt, if only for one sentence at a time—which, I remind myself daily, is all it really takes to move forward.

Needless to say, the tedium of parking myself in a wooden chair for hours on end is enough to kill anyone’s muse. As a result, I find that a little fresh air and exercise help me generate new ideas and make connections that I might not otherwise make. Further, I try to limit my time on the Internet, often using it as a reward for progress. Translation: I am a kindergartener, only less disciplined, and I rely on positive reinforcement in order to accomplish anything noteworthy. Instead of receiving glittery stickers, I get to generate irreverent tweets and post pictures of my dogs on Facebook.IMG_6206

Also, I ensure that my environment isn’t too quiet. For whatever reason, listening to Neil Young helps me churn out more words, as does the early music of Candlebox, Collective Soul and the Black Crowes—at a barely perceptible decibel level, I might add. I’m guessing it’s because their lyrics melt seamlessly into instrumental riffs, failing to compete or interfere with the jumbled mass of words inside my head—the ones that struggle to escape in some semblance of order and clarity.

Oddly enough, I often don’t know how I feel about a topic until I actually sit down and type the words. So to invite other words inside my brain AT THE SAME TIME almost always ends poorly. Case in point: The yammering that emanates from a television set drives me fairly insane, as it’s photosomehow funneled to my ears no matter how many walls separate us. If it happens to be tuned to Fox News during an election year, it’s patently debilitating.

Likewise, being within earshot of my husband spells disaster for my writing, too. This, of course, is because the man has no filter and he talks incessantly—to me, to himself, to people on the phone, to our idiotic dogs and even to the houseplants, I assume. More specifically, he has an irksome habit of reading aloud Facebook posts, select emails, newspaper headlines as well as outrageous excerpts from letters to the editor. While it’s true, I am often entertained by the aforementioned, it seems reasonable to request that it could wait.

Similarly, if, in the course of his crazy-busy day, he happened to have stumbled into 17 people he knows, I can count on receiving a synopsis regarding each of the chance encounters the instant he walks in the door. If he is about to change the cat box, has trimmed his toenails recently or has walked to the street to retrieve the mail, I’ll assuredly receive a report. What’s more, if he has taxied our brood anywhere throughout the day, I’ll get a detailed accounting of the logistical nightmare involved, along with a verbal transcript of the teen-inspired diatribe to which he was undoubtedly subjected.

In all fairness, I’m quite sure he has no idea HOW BERSERK this makes me as I hunt-and-peck at the keyboard, attempting to string sentences together. Naturally, I stew in silence until I can’t stand it anymore—at which point I shout STOP PUTTING WORDS IN MY HEAD. It’s as if he has crawled inside my cranium with a megaphone in order to more effectively deliver the soundtrack of my life—which would be fine if I weren’t wrestling with my own warped commentary. It’s crowded enough in there without his ramblings.

Then again, the man endures my ramblings, so I guess it balances out in the end.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live, trying (and often failing) to silence the voices in my head. Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2016 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Bookish Stuff, Captain Quirk, The Write Stuff

V is for Valentine

V is for the valiant deeds you do as a matter of course—like traipsing through our home in the dead of night in your underwear to find the source of a sound I’ve tried (and failed miserably) to adequately describe, except to say that it is “most definitely not a normal ‘house sound.’” Moreover, you’ve rushed to my aid on countless occasions to thwart the spillage of veritable pools of repulsiveness, unstopping the loo with remarkable aplomb, never once pausing to judge the ridiculous nature of my fear and loathing.

A is for your appreciative nature and for your inclination to express said appreciation in the form of chocolate. And almonds. Perhaps dark chocolate-covered almonds, if I were asked to more accurately define the essence of your appreciative ilk, my dear Romeo.

L is for loveable, given the endearing creature that you are. That said, you’re kind and compassionate, thoughtful and engaging, generous to a fault and more romantic than you’ll ever know. I never have to question your love for me or your ability to make me laugh even when the bottom falls out and the wheels fly off (think: projectile vomiting and flooded basements). You know just what to say and when to say it, reading me as well as any book you’ve ever held in your hands. Even your foibles (which, by many standards, should’ve made me certifiably insane by now) are marginally unobjectionable—something I never thought humanly possible.

E is for the enthusiasm with which you approach life—even in the face of my less-than-enthusiastic view toward tedious chores like cleaning the garage, weatherproofing the deck and planning the totality of every summer vacation we’ve ever been so fortunate to take. Furthermore, the restraint you demonstrated for the duration of my Orlando-inspired tirade (i.e. the one involving shameful histrionics in which I accused Disney characters of being creepy and a certain airline of being patently tyrannical) was most admirable. For that alone, I love you dearly.

N is for your nonjudgmental nature. You don’t care that I sometimes forget to cook. Or dust. Or shop. Or water plants. You accept me for who I am, unconditionally, and know that a lot of plants will likely die in my care.

T is for the tolerance you exhibit each and every day. Admittedly, I’m difficult to live with. I’m needy, erratic and I have a crippling aversion to spiders. I swill milk straight from the jug, my showers are of an interminable length and I’ve been known to mock your shortcomings with merciless precision (i.e. “Can’t you at least pretend to be organized?”) What’s more, I am physically incapable of getting anywhere in a timely fashion, which I’m certain rankles you to the core. You’ll never know how grateful I am for your tolerance in the abovementioned arenas.

I is for the ingenuity you routinely display when you’re called upon to delve into our brood’s unwieldy school projects—the ones that ought to warn parents of the perils of working with way too much glue and far too little direction. So clever and resourceful are you, utilizing an unlikely arsenal of duct tape, crusty pizza boxes and errant screws. You’re perfectly selfless, too, embracing the celebrated and often untimely excursion to Jo-Ann Fabrics without the slightest objection or hint of frustration. After all, you reason, it gives you a chance to bond with other parents who have made the very same trek—to gather paint, to compare the circumference of various styrofoam balls and to suffer the ill effects of pipe cleaner envy.

N is for the novelty you employ practically every time you pack someone’s lunch, adding a touch of love and creativity to an otherwise banal event. Never mind that you’ve replaced me as the Sandwich Captain and Scrawler of Lunchbox Notes. Of course, I was envious at first, harboring a visceral brand of resentment for a time. But I’ve come to realize that you’ve taken on the task to lighten my load. What’s more, I genuinely appreciate your flair for catering to creatures who are, at best, a challenge to nourish.

E is for your emboldening ways. In a word, you’re my biggest advocate in this life—silencing my doubts, offering definitive proof that my cup runneth over much of the time and always, always providing a soft spot to land when I fall. Valentine, I love you more than words could ever say.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (spelling it out for my special valentine). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2012 Melinda L. Wentzel (Also seen on The Huffington Post!)

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Clutter is the Bane of My Existence

Recently, I experienced one of those deliciously thrilling EUREKA moments in which I discovered the root of my debilitating problem with clutter. Archimedes would be proud. Needless to say, I was duly impressed with myself as well and have since celebrated by arranging to meet with the legendary Fly Lady herself, author of Sink Reflections www.flylady.net. Not really, but I’d like to think that that domestic goddess would be mildly astounded by my important findings and most certainly abuzz about the implications for all of mankind. Naturally, such a noteworthy accomplishment required that I take a long, hard look at myself, at my shamefully counterproductive housekeeping habits and at the dysfunction with which I am surrounded.

Firstly, I am married to someone who is physically incapable of throwing anything away—hence, the scourge of clutter currently sucking the life out of me. Always and forever, it seems, the Keeper of All Things Unnecessary defends his position: “But what if we NEED (insert virtually any tool-ish device of which we own three, documents that date back to the Paleozoic Era or a less-than-functional yet slightly adored heirloom harvested from the bowels of someone’s attic) in the next century?!” Making matters worse (read: FAR WORSE), our brood manifests many of the very same neurotic hang-ups irksome tendencies with respect to the concept of purging beloved treasures like ratty toothbrushes, chintzy toys and rubbish gleefully retrieved from beneath bleachers and whatnot. Woe is me.

Secondly, I keep buying stuff (i.e. obscenely frivolous crap that beckons to me from afar). That said, I am weak, I have voluminous quantities of time to fritter away in stores and I have plastic. WAY more plastic than someone with my far-from-frugal penchant ought to have. Mind you, such fiscally juvenile behavior continues to take place despite being painfully aware of the dearth of available storage space in my home and of the disturbing nature of my problem.

Thirdly, I cannot (for whatever reason) will my pathetic self to put anything away (for Crissakes) at the precise moment in time that it SHOULD be put away. Nor can I deal with whatever begs to be dealt with in a timely manner—namely, bank statements, muddied soccer cleats, folded laundry and anything even remotely related to the WRETCHED MAIL. As a result, hideous-looking piles of this and that lie about like carnage. And yet, I lamely argue the point that said stuff is simply en route to its rightful place in the Universe.

It’s in limbo, as it were; a twisted sort of purgatory for household goods. It’s a sinful reality here in these parts—a reality that is entirely imprudent and completely preventable. “But,” I insist to anyone fool enough to listen, “I have, shall we say, some slight ‘issues’ with follow though. Besides, it’s perfectly normal to paw through one’s laundry basket for clean socks, to trip over heaps of that-which-is-destined-for-the-recycling-bin and to race to the bus stop while yanking the tags off new clothes that have yet to see the inside of anyone’s closet. Perfectly normal.”

June Cleaver would be horrified.

But it’s not as if I’m a complete failure. Even June would have to admit that a modicum of what I do smacks of success. More specifically, it’s the baby steps I take on that eternal quest for order that truly matter. The successive approximations (a la B.F. Skinner) that I realize over time. Little by little, I shift and shuttle things to where they belong, knowing that EVENTUALLY clutter will leave me.

So there’s that, at least—the promise of order. Here’s hoping I’m not senile by the time said order arrives.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (forever ferrying stuff hither and yon, to its rightful place in the Universe). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Men in Tights

RECENTLY BOUGHT EASTER DRESSES FOR MY BROOD AND COULDN’T HELP BUT REMEMBER THE YEAR I FOOLISHLY ASKED MY HUSBAND TO SHOP FOR TIGHTS…

Men don’t belong in tights. Nor do they belong in stores that sell tights apparently. At least that’s what my husband thinks—after I sent him on an insufferable mission to obtain a couple pairs for our resident ballerinas/heathens-who-needed-suitable-Easter-attire on short notice. Of course, this ridiculously urgent need arose because I don’t plan particularly well. June Cleaver (as a mother of daughters) would have had a stash of snag-free tights at her fingertips, available in a rainbow of sizes and colors for all of her tight-wearing brood.

I’m no June Cleaver.

Me: “Hon, would you run to the store and pick up some white tights for the girls? They need them for church in a size 4-6. Oh, and they have to have feet. And they have to be stretchier (is that a word?) than the ones I got for Palm Sunday. Remember those wretched things? It was like they were meant for some squatty toddler with beefy thighs—not a gangly first grader. Remember how stinking irate I got when I tried yanking and pulling on them to get them up where they were supposed to be—and they just wouldn’t go? A squirrel could have lived in that crotch gap. Anyway, I threw the hideous things away. Did I mention that the tights have to be white—not off-white or cream, but white white? Otherwise, they won’t match the dresses I bought. Can you handle that, Hon? I knew you could.”

Dutiful Husband: “Alright already. I’ll do it (insert string of indecipherable griping). White tights. Not cream. Size 4-6. With feet. Stretchier than the last ones. Got it. But remember this—you owe me. This is NOT my idea of fun.”

Needless to say, when the man returned it was evident that the assigned task, which had indeed not been the least bit fun, proved to be a supreme challenge. I would owe him for an eternity. Maybe longer.

Me: “Thanks for getting the tights, but where are the feet? I believe I specifically stated that they needed feet. These are ‘capris,’ Hon. They have no feet.”

Dutiful Husband: “Wad-da-ya mean they DON’T HAVE FEET?! Why doesn’t it just SPELL THAT OUT IN ENGLISH on the stupid package for crying out loud?! And what the $#@* does ‘capri’ mean?!”

Me: “It means they have no feet.”

Dutiful Husband: “And a man should know this—why?!” (I assumed—correctly—that this was a rhetorical question).

The love of my life then proceeded to fish out the phone book and dial up another establishment that could potentially save the day. (No sense driving there when the impression of idiocy could be made over the phone just as handily). It saves everyone time and trouble.

Dutiful Husband: “Hello? Yes, I need two pairs of white leotards in size 4-6 WITH FEET. Do you have such an animal? No? Okay, thanks anyway. Bye.”

Me: “Did you just ask someone for leotards? We need tights, Hon, not leotards. White ones. With feet.”

Dutiful Husband: “Who do I look like?! Fricking Baryshnikov?!!! I’m a DAD—not a guy who buys stuff like…like this!” he shrieked, motioning emphatically at the soon-to-be-returned merchandise. “Leotards. Tights. Tights. Leotards. What’s the difference?! I don’t pretend to know the difference! I’m not supposed to—I’m a DAD, remember?!”

At that point I quietly and privately acknowledged how infinitely obtuse I had been to expect the man to deliver under the circumstances. It was an impossible mission and one I probably just should have carried out myself. Then again, I could have wound up with that home for wayward squirrels/embarrassment-of-a-crotch-gap disaster a second time and felt like a fool all over again. Either way, I lost.

Me: “I’m sorry. Maybe I shouldn’t have ever…”

Dutiful Husband (furiously punching numbers into the phone): “No, no. I’ll do it. I told you I’d do it and I will. Hello? Yes, it’s me again. APPARENTLY I don’t need leotards, I need tights,” he said through clenched teeth. “White ones. Size 4-6. With feet. Do you have ‘em? Good. I’ll be right there. Hold them for me and guard them with your life.”

This time he came back with four pairs of the silly things (just to be on the safe side). Lo and behold…THEY HAD FEET. And the crotch gap was at least tolerable. All things considered, I was comforted in the knowledge that he came through in the end. But I have to agree…men just don’t belong in tights.

Except maybe Baryshnikov. Somehow they suit him.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Captain Quirk, Holiday Hokum

Welcome to My Dysfunctional World

I have a confession to make. I suffer from a completely debilitating and utterly incurable fixation—with my kitchen counters. More specifically, with keeping them clean day and night.  Maybe it stems from my well documented germ phobia, perhaps from my fanatical loathing of clutter or quite possibly it could somehow be traced to my never-ending desire to control my environment. There’s always the off chance I do it to mark territory, too—to send a clear message to those who would dare smear peanut butter, dribble jelly or toss junk mail upon that which is sacred.

Or maybe it’s simply because this particular space represents the last bastion of order that exists in my entire world (aside from my sock drawer) and I feel compelled to protect and preserve it with every ounce of my being. A bit theatrical, I agree. Dysfunctional, no doubt. But wouldn’t life be dreadfully dull without a touch of drama and dysfunction sprinkled here or there? That’s my motto. Welcome to my world.

What’s funny is that my obsession with cleaning pretty much ends there. In the kitchen. On the counters. And nowhere else. I just don’t seem to experience those overwhelming urges to dust and scrub and disinfect anywhere else. Not in the living room. Not in the den. Not even in the car or bathrooms. Nope. Genuine motivation (like knowing that guests will soon make landfall) must strike in those instances. Relentless nagging works too.

But my kitchen is a different story. I’m sure most would take one look and classify me as “thoroughly possessed” when it comes to the counter arena. It has that pristine no-one-really-lives-here look, like it had been snatched from the pages of Good Housekeeping under the featured article: Fabulous Kitchen Spaces for the Cleaning Fanatic in Your Home. Admittedly, I qualify as the fanatic in this family—at least as far as the kitchen counters go.

Once the cooking is finished I am literally driven to remove every trace of food, drip of water or dirtied dish instantaneously. To restore everything to its proper place in the universe in what many would deem record time; like it’s an Olympic event or something. Albeit an odd one. Beyond the basics of tidying up, the canisters and pasta jars have to be angled just so, fake fruit arranged perfectly in its bowl and the larger-than-necessary cluster of wooden spoons must somehow resemble a bouquet of freshly picked daisies. Maybe the term “odd” doesn’t adequately describe my dysfunction here.

I probably need therapy.

Strangely enough, those powerful impulses to clean and clear often hit me WHILE I’m actually cooking (not to worry, I don’t cook all that much). So in effect, the two rather diverse tasks become nearly simultaneous events—which for some reason drives my husband absolutely berserk. Perhaps it’s because he has a different approach to the fine art of preparing meals. I have affectionately termed his primary objective, “put-every-blasted-ingredient-dish-and-utensil-under-the-sun-on-the-countertops-and-leave-them-there-indefinitely-so-as-to-annoy-the-wife.” I find his habit of sprinkling flour hither and yon to be equally irksome. Maybe he’s the one marking territory. Not surprisingly, this master chef also subscribes to the theory: The bigger the mess, the better the meal. Needless to say, he has prepared a number of very fine meals over the years.

I suppose, though, I’ll continue to endure, as the payoff is decidedly delicious; and besides it’s not nearly as distressing as I found the insufferable Baby Bottle Era. Oy. At that time, our counters served as a veritable purgatory for plastic whateverness (i.e. drip-drying fucking forever). Sippy cups, teething rings, pacifiers, bottles, lids and those dastardly little valve-like components I never quite mastered blanketed our countertops night and day. I distinctly recall fantasizing about the disappearance of said ugliness.

Like I said, I have this fixation….

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2005 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Romance for Dummies

My husband is a hopeless romantic. Albeit an accidental one. Of course, he’s always done the stuff that hopeless romantics do. He sends me roses—just because. He writes me poetry and remembers our anniversary each November. He surprises me on my birthday, without fail and bestows upon me sinful quantities of chocolate on Valentine’s Day—knowing full well that I’d do almost anything for a slab of milk chocolate almond bark. And though I love him dearly for doing so, those are not the things I find especially romantic—never mind what the world at large may opine.

No doubt, he’d be stunned by this news, and perhaps disappointed to think he’d been missing the mark all these years. But he hasn’t been missing the mark. He’s simply oblivious as to why I find him wholly irresistible. Indeed, he’s clueless when it comes to recognizing what he does so completely right. Hence, the ACCIDENTAL component of the hopeless romantic equation.

That said, he unwittingly seizes the ordinary moments of life and somehow makes them special, which, to me, is deemed slightly wonderful and oh-so-romantic. More specifically, he leaves endearing, little notes everywhere with nary a holiday in sight. I stumble upon them throughout my day—under my pillow, in the kitchen, thoughtfully affixed to my computer screen, where I cannot help but notice—and smile. “I LOVE YOU—ALWAYS,” it will read, or “I’M PROUD OF YOU.” Then again, some of his messages are entirely pragmatic: “I FED THE DOG ALREADY. DON’T FEED HIM AGAIN,” or mildly sarcastic: “REMEMBER TO PUT THE FISH IN THE FRIDGE OR WE’LL ALL DIE OF FOOD POISIONING.”

Either way, I’m instantly charmed.

Likewise, my Romeo is liable to warm my heart by bringing me a beef and cheddar panini from Jazzman’s—an exceedingly delicious mid-day indulgence inspired entirely by that-which-moves-good-deed-doers-to-action. What’s more, the man has texted me while perched atop the lawn mower—proclaiming his abiding love for me under the blazing sun. Or maybe it was to remind me to pick up an errant flip-flop in the lawn. I can’t remember now, but I’d like to hope it was the former.

While I was pregnant he satisfied all sorts of culinary cravings, too, whipping up a shameful quantity of raspberry milkshakes and fetching dried apricots in the dead of night. He also tied my shoes, as the swell of my freakishly large belly thwarted my every effort to reach my knees, let alone my feet.

Further, the man has no qualms whatsoever in dealing with our brood when they are beyond the point of persnickety at mealtime, obscenely tired and cranky at the close of a trying day, impossibly giddified over this or that perfectly inane thing or even while hurling profusely into a big bucket—all of which I find inordinately romantic. Strange, but true. Plus, he fixes stuff that’s broken. He ferries children hither and yon. He masterminds our every holiday feast. He cooks and shops and bears in mind what he’ll need for meals—which isn’t normal, I’m told. Not for a man. Nor is suggesting that on some lazy afternoon we should rent Doctor Zhivago—an epic love story in the truest sense. “What’s so weird about wanting to watch a movie together?” he’ll ask, puzzled by my stunned silence.

Oblivion abounds, my dear Romeo.

Lately, said oblivion has risen to a new level, giving me reason to shake my head in disbelief. Just before Valentine’s Day, following an appreciable snowfall, he got up at dark-thirty to take the dog out, which necessitated shoveling a path in the back yard so that our vertically challenged pooch might not disappear altogether in a snow drift. “How thoughtful,” I mused. Some time later, I went to the window to admire what he had done. Lo and behold, he had carved a most enormous heart there in the sparkling snow—roughly 20 feet across with an arrow piercing its center. “Whoa,” was all I could mouth, astounded by this wonderful thing he had surely done to woo me once more—as if Aphrodite herself had guided the shovel there in the grayness of dawn.

Naturally, I showered him with gratitude, wrapping my arms around him and pulling him closer to the window so we could gaze at this thing of beauty together, hand in hand. “How sweet and kind and UTTERLY ROMANTIC of you!” I gushed.

“Romantic?” he repeated, fumbling over the word and glancing in the direction of the window.

“Yes! ROMANTIC!” I affirmed, sure that he was merely playing dumb. “How on earth did you do such an amazing thing?!”

What amazing thing? I shoveled a path in the snow. For the dog.”

“No no no. That’s not a path. That’s a HEART! A GINORMOUS HEART NESTLED BETWEEN THE PINES JUST FOR ME—FOR VALENTINE’S DAY! That was so completely ROMANTIC of you!”

Stupidly, he looked out the window and back at me with an expression that clearly conveyed the wheel is spinning, but the hamster is dead. It was the point at which he could have and should have rescued himself. A simple nod of agreement and a half-hearted smile would have sufficed. But no. Not for my oblivion-minded Romeo. My (accidental) hopeless romantic.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (with my dear, sweet Romeo).

Copyright 2010 Melinda L. Wentzel

 

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Be Mine, You Foolish, Foolish Man

Enough already. Quit it. Stop going overboard on Valentine’s Day, you well-intentioned fool in love. The extravagance is just that—extravagant. We already know you love us dearly, so stop trying to prove it with super-sized mushy cards, chocolate galore and the sweetest-smelling roses that plastic can buy. Well, maybe chocolate isn’t such a bad idea, but the rest of the sentimental journeying you do is just fluff. No offense, Romeo.

My intent here is merely to enlighten (ever so gently), not to patronize those who go to incredible lengths each year to woo the socks off a loved one. Your gallant efforts and unbridled enthusiasm are genuinely appreciated. Trust me. But the time and energy you expend, all in the name of love, might prove more fruitful when coupled with a key bit of information. Consider it a tip, a newsflash or the inside scoop on romance, if you will. Take it for what it’s worth (if you so choose)—and by all means, try not to take it personally.

Basically, in my book there are three essential (and timelessly proven) elements to keeping the love alive in a relationship:

1)     TUNE IN TO YOUR PARTNER. And by this I mean observe, listen and really pay attention to what your partner likes, values, needs and genuinely cares about. If you don’t, you will have missed the proverbial boat. If it’s mawkish poetry, a roomful of rose petals or a rock the size of Gibraltar that will make her heart flutter, by all means—go for it. Just be sure that whatever you choose to charm her with does just that. For instance, I’d be charmed to death if my valentine were to surprise me with a weekend getaway for two so I could enjoy a reprieve from Mom Duty. I’d also be thrilled beyond compare to receive a homemade coupon book for that priceless commodity: “alone time” (redeemable in glorious one-hour increments). Foot massages are nice, too. And gentlemen, please please please refrain from last-minute emergency purchases. We weren’t born yesterday, you know. It really shows when little or no thought has gone into a gift—regardless of the price tag.

2)     WORK TO IMPROVE YOUR LOVE LIFE ALL YEAR LONG, NOT JUST IN MID-FEBRUARY. This is a no-brainer. Well, almost. Certainly we understand how life’s hectic pace can get in the way of remembering to remember each other day in and day out. Believe me; we GET the term “hectic.” Probably coined it. But doesn’t it sort of smack of making-up-for-lost-time when not so much as a “hello kiss” or an “I love you” shows up for months on end, then lo and behold, February arrives with a deluge of sweet-nothings whispered in our ears? Makes me downright suspicious. When it comes to relationships, daily maintenance makes far more sense than having to undergo a major overhaul—same with vehicles (only they’re less complicated).

3)     NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE VALUE OF ROMANCE (OR YOUR ABILITY TO BE ROMANTIC). Come on, Valentino, you know this much is true. It’s the spice of life, the door to the soul and the key to nearly every woman’s heart. And for a lot of women, I’d daresay it has little or nothing to do with sex. It has more to do with how you make us feel about ourselves, as well as how valued and respected we are in your eyes. Yep, it’s THAT simple. Once you get that much figured out, understanding women is really a walk in the park. But it’s a really big park, and you’ll probably have to ask for directions at some point, which not many of you are inclined to do. Hence, the mystification problem.

In a nutshell, romance is a powerful thing, but not necessarily viewed the same by all. Naturally, it’s the romancee who determines how romantic (or not) something or someone is. Not the romancer. So be sure to zero in on what will truly melt your valentine’s heart—not just what you THINK will kindle the flames of love, Mr. Casanova. And finally, never ever underestimate yourself; you might be surprisingly romantic when you put your mind (as well as your heart) to the task.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (with Valentino himself).

Copyright 2006 Melinda L. Wentzel

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