• 52°

Happy Valentine’s Day

Roses are red,

Violets are blue

Why is there puke,

Hitting my shoe?

Valentine’s dates at the Horton house are as rare as a sighting of Cupid himself. With five children under the age of 10, it’s been a few years since my wife and I could sit down for dinner alone at a restaurant.

In fact, it’s been a few years since we’ve been alone, period. There always seems to be a child nearby — on the floor next to our bed, in our laps at the dinner table, in our arms anytime we’re standing. You get the idea.

But this Valentine’s Day was going to be different. We had a babysitter lined up who was brave, or naive, enough to take responsibility for all five children. We had planned two glorious hours away from them. We had the restaurant picked out and had been dreaming of this time alone for weeks. 

We were going to talk about things other than children. We were going to just sit in silence and enjoy each other’s company. We were so close.

And then, our dreams were flushed down the toilet — along with the vomit that spewed from our middle child’s mouth.

It was 2 a.m. when we woke to the sounds of vomiting. There’s nothing as jarring or dreadful as the sounds of puke in the middle of the night. The heaves combined with the splatter of fluids on the floor is the stuff of nightmares.

The first words to leave our mouths were variations of “There goes our date night.”

It was a selfish thought, but it was honest. You can’t leave a sick child with a babysitter, no matter how good she is.

So after a couple hours of cleaning up vomit, we resigned ourselves to another Valentine’s weekend without a date. Without time alone. Without adult conversation. Without silence.

Instead, we will change diapers and read books about bears and have dinner thrown at us and wash dishes and bathe children and clean floors and all the other stuff that goes along with parenting.

And we’ll dream of next year, when hopefully Cupid brings chocolates and roses instead of vomit.

Happy Valentine’s Day.