Tag Archives: romance

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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The Omen

Well, Spring has long since sprung and love is officially in the air. I know this to be true because roughly every 43 seconds or so I receive yet another blurb about a love struck fool who just got engaged, who is about to get engaged or who has fallen so madly and deeply in love that he or she can’t see straight—let alone tolerate another minute without driving to Sears to pick out a shiny, new toaster with Mister or Miss Right. There is but one thing left do: To get engaged, of course—to admit that, “I have fallen and I can’t get up, nor can I possibly function another day on this planet without him (or her) by my side. He (or she) completes me.”

Gak. Spare me the syrupy details. It’s nauseating. Like an overdose of Aunt Jemima. Or Hungry Jack. I honestly wish the sappy nitwits in question would just ditch their silly blinders, at least momentarily, so that they might snap out of that besotted delirium to examine the truth. To step back from the drunken whirlwind of passion and crazed adoration to view reality if only for an instant. To wake up and smell the irrationality.

Lord knows I could have benefited from a smattering of logic the first time around—or from a little red flagish thing to alert me of the idiocy looming just around the bend. Unfortunately, however, the voice of reason had been stifled—battered and beaten into submission by some Aphrodite character. Looking back, I now realize my first husband and I were about as compatible as elbows and asphalt. Throw a rickety skateboard into the mix along with a couple of uncompromising personalities struggling to find balance in their lives and that was us. But without question, one of the most wonderful creatures on earth came about as a direct result of our union—my firstborn. No regrets there. I can’t imagine life without her—despite her oh-so-exasperating wild and woolly streak.

But to this day, I still marvel over the fact that I somehow missed an important signal while mired in the depths of that hopelessly smitten state. A big, yellow CAUTION sign planted squarely on the road of life. An omen meant to warn me of impending doom—not to portend everlasting marital bliss.

To make a long, boring story brief and exceedingly exciting, I was on the cusp of womanhood, preparing to make one of life’s most important decisions—to marry or not to marry the aforementioned fellow. His proposal was romantic enough, I suppose. Chilled champagne and a crackling fire were involved as I recall. But for whatever reason, I stalled—hesitating to respond for weeks, I think. This was perhaps omen #1, a subtle yet telling event that, of course, I dismissed. Omen #2, however, was one of those blatant, hit-me-over-the-head-with-a-fucking-shovel dealies that should have caused me to stop dead in my tracks had I had as much sense as a piece of driftwood. Suffice it to say, I didn’t, so I forged ahead with my plan anyway.

Admittedly, it was a magnificently orchestrated plan—and one that would answer his proposal in grand style. No simple, “Yes, I’ll marry you,” utterance would do. Nope. There had to be bells and whistles. Theatrics galore. I would hire a man to pilot a plane over Beaver Stadium during the legendary ’85 Penn State/Nebraska football game, all the while trailing enormous signage for the record crowd below to witness. “YES, I’LL MARRY YOU, JOHN!!” in bright red lettering would wave and flutter across the skies, proclaiming to thousands that I no longer was in doubt over the issue of marriage. The $150.00 it cost me to say so seemed reasonable given the significance of the event. But it was not to be.

By some strange twist of fate, the silly little plane never appeared. Not so much as a hint of its whirling propeller or the drone of its engine emerged from the cottony clouds that day—despite having glued my eyes and ears there for the duration. I later learned that the stupid thing had broken down sometime in the middle of the game and that the pilot was terribly sorry and fully intended to refund my money.

If ever there was a sign—that was surely it. It turns out that true love, in fact, WAS NOT in the air that day. Too bad I missed that memo.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2007 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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The Protocol of Love

No one writes love letters anymore it seems—the carefully folded squares upon which fools in love used to pour their hearts and souls, wooing the socks off each other with amorous prose and flawless penmanship. There was something to be said for the renderings of hearts pierced with arrows, too, and the TOGETHER FOREVER proclamations that were scribbled in the margins, punctuating the sentiment that flowed from their pens. Never mind the curlicues sprinkled like confetti across the pages of so many heartfelt messages. The handwritten letter, it seems, is all but extinct.

And while Hallmark does its level best to provide us with a host of perfect wordages for every occasion and our love affair with the instantaneous nature of texting, et al. has blossomed beyond all imagining, somehow these methods of communicating fall short. That said, they lack a certain warmth and palpable quality that only handcrafted ink-on-paper love letters possess.

But it’s unlikely that generations from now any curious-minded descendents of my children will happen upon a bundle of yellowed envelopes in a forgotten corner of anyone’s attic. And even if someone did, said discovery certainly wouldn’t be as remarkable as the cache of a dozen or so letters my husband and I unearthed in recent memory—the ones that were affectionately penned almost seven decades ago by a man deeply in love with his future wife—a man who had joined the Navy and was stationed far from home—a man who would one day become my husband’s father—a man that I, sadly, never knew, but whose letters have helped me bridge the gap.

My mother-in-law, of course, had carefully tucked the aforementioned keepsakes away, and it was some time after her passing that we stumbled upon them in a dresser drawer along with war rations and assorted snapshots from their early life together. Call me crazy, but I can’t imagine anyone digitally preserving treasured emails and text messages for much the same purpose. Alas, the world’s collective mindset has become far too intent upon immediacy and the disposable nature of things for that sort of nonsense.

Indeed, the entire landscape of courtship is a different place these days—no thanks to technology. Evidently it’s no longer in vogue to spend a Sunday afternoon having dinner and getting to know the parents of one’s love interest. The youth of today can’t be bothered with idle chitchat or something as dreadfully dull as sitting around in front of a fireplace, tackling a project together or (gasp!) playing cards at the kitchen table. Never mind taking the time to become familiar with his or her family traditions, cultural background or getting a grip on the dynamics within the family unit itself. Evidently, Facebook is the place where those things are shared nowadays—unless and until messiness ensues (i.e. breakups and whatnot). “What then?!” I ask. Does the proper protocol involve un-friending the would-be significant other/potential mate of one’s child? For all intents and purposes, that seems completely gauche to me. And awkward at best. Needless to say, life’s muck-in-the-middle doesn’t translate especially well via social media. A Facebook fail, as it were.

Furthermore, since the advent of cell phones, parents are virtually removed from the day to day connecting with those who feel compelled to telephone ad nauseam. Personally, I like intercepting those calls for my daughters because it gives me a fleeting chance to become better acquainted with the gentleman caller—whether he happens to fit the profile of an axe murderer, he is the epitome of son-in-law-material, or perhaps the most charming fourth grade boy the world will ever know. That said, I’m in no hurry to add Thing One and Thing Two to our ever-expanding cell phone plan. Our land line is just fine, thank you very much.

Likewise, I will rue the day any daughter of mine announces she’s getting married—unless, of course, the aforementioned epitome of son-in-law-material with whom said daughter would be enamored had had the presence of mind to seek our blessing and approval first. As it should be. However, I fear that sort of creature is a dying breed. Even still, I hope he’ll craft an abundance of handwritten love letters—ones that she will save till the ink fades, but not the memories they make together.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (lamenting the changing face of love).

Copyright 2011 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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Countdown to Ho-Hum: Ringing in the New Year

Here’s hoping my New Year’s Eve won’t be frighteningly similar to that of 2008 (i.e. described below in horrific detail). Oh well…such is parenthood.

Romantically speaking, I lead an extraordinarily dull life. At no time does this particular truth become more self-evident than on New Year’s Eve. Painfully so, I might add. Tonight throngs of revelers—lovers, chief among them—will gather in venues all over the globe; near the Opera House in Sydney, along the River Thames in London and in Times Square, New York among other locales gloriously abuzz with the excitement and anticipation of ringing in the New Year.

At the stroke of midnight, surging masses of disgustingly happy people will join together in song (likely, a crude rendition of Auld Lang Syne). They’ll cheer uproariously, embrace lovingly and perhaps throw caution (and confetti) to the wind. It’s rumored that proposals of marriage, affirmations of everlasting love and wildly passionate kisses will abound as well.

All of this my husband and I will witness from our living room couch, our kids sandwiched impossibly between us, eyes fixated on the television screen, all parties concerned eagerly awaiting the grand event by which the night has come to be defined—the countdown to 2009. Of course, the ball will ceremoniously descend from that infamous flagpole atop One Times Square and we’ll discuss its unbounded remarkableness. Thing One and Thing Two will indeed be stunned and amazed as each infinitely interesting tidbit of information tumbles forth from my lips: said 12-foot kaleidoscopic wonder (which happens to be double the size of previous geodesic spheres) is covered with 2,668 Waterford Crystals, is powered by 32,256 Philips Luxeon Rebel LEDs, is capable of displaying 16 million vibrant colors and weighs in at an astonishing 11,875 pounds!

“I Googled it; therefore, it must be so,” I’ll state with assurance and pride. Pride for having sacrificed (read: frittered away) a sizeable chunk of time on the computer for a worthy cause: to impress the troops. In all likelihood, oohs and aahs will then rain down on me and my heart will be glad. With any luck, such praise and adulation will purge from my mind completely the sad reality of our pathetic-looking woulda-coulda-shoulda-hired-a-sitter date night. But since neither of us (at this time of year especially!) possesses enough energy or enthusiasm even to entertain the notion of going out on the town for the evening, it simply doesn’t happen. No parties. No fancy-schmancy restaurants. No fine French cuisine. No kids tucked snugly in bed by eight. Nada. So we sit on the couch and lament. Or at least I lament about our sorry state of affairs as Dan Fogelberg’s bittersweet New Year’s Eve tune wafts unremittingly inside my head.

Yet, truth be told, our situation isn’t entirely devoid of good cheer. Indeed, there are bright spots in the deep, dark trenches of parenthood—woefully housebound with our giddified crew of pixies. Like when we raise our glasses to each other, to the memory of loved ones we’ve lost and to life itself. Warts and all. When we reflect upon all that we have to be grateful for—to include 2008’s string of ordinary days that weren’t so ordinary after all. When we filter out the noise and madness of our world long enough to enjoy our kids’ collective font of hilarity: “Mom, this champagne makes my nose all fizzly!” (Inglenook’s non-alcoholic bubbly, mind you). When we open the front door to hear the distant echoes of merriment and fireworks in town. When we hold hands, warmly gaze at each other and comfortably fall into one another’s arms, it gives me pause—at least until demands for a group hug are made.

And something tells me I’m right where I’m supposed to be, nestled together in our PJ’s, awash in the glow of that special moment, ushering in what we hope will be a year filled with great promise and joy. Naturally, I whisper a small prayer as well—for the strength to face the challenges that will surely find us and for the wisdom to recognize what merit lies within all that is seemingly ordinary. As it should be.

Happy New Year.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel

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