The night my husband proposed to me was one of the most memorable moments of my life. He went the whole nine yards, pulled out all the stops. It involved a scavenger hunt, a mixed CD with sentimental songs, rose petals, and him playing a song he’d written on the guitar. It was beautiful and sweet, a storybook engagement if ever there was one. But as romantic as it sounds (and it was!), it’s not the most romantic thing Eric has ever done. Not even close.
We are now the parents of three boys aged 2 months to 6 years. I’m a stay-at-home mom while Eric goes off to work, and life lived 24/7 with small children is non-stop action. My husband does what he can to make things easier for me, and part of that is helping out in the mornings with breakfast and getting our oldest ready for school, including making a peanut butter sandwich and a packed lunch. A few times a week, however, he has to rise with the sun and be in to work early, and on those days I’m on my own to manage the wild morning rush.
A few months ago, I awoke to one of those days. His side of the bed was empty and I rose from mine a little grumpy. The boys were up, already yelling and standing on their heads, and I begrudgingly shuffled downstairs to tackle the crazy morning ritual of breakfast/lunch packing/getting everyone dressed. I turned on the kitchen light, and the first thing I saw was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, ready-made right down to the slice through the middle. It was ready to be put in a lunch box and devoured by a kindergartner. As crazy as it may sound, the first thought that flew into my brain was, “that’s the most romantic thing he’s ever done.”
Really? More romantic than that marriage proposal? More romantic than the poems he’s written or the flowers he’s given? More romantic than a fancy candlelight dinner or a massage? Am I crazy?
You see, anyone can plan meticulously and follow traditional romantic precedents for special occasions like Valentine’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries, and engagements. Those things are lovely and certainly appreciated, but they can never replace a simple gesture made on an ordinary Tuesday morning when there are no expectations and when no one’s looking.
When my husband went out of his way to help me out on a morning that he wouldn’t be physically present, he showed that he respected the work I do for our family. When he made that simple sandwich and left it on the counter, he showed that he’d been thinking of me even while preparing for work. I felt known and seen and, yes, romanced.
So from the surface, the night Eric proposed was a much more memorable event. And it’s certainly one I never want to forget. But I hope I also always remember the time he left a PB&J on the kitchen counter to make my morning go just a little bit easier. Because the proposal is what started a marriage, but things like the PB&J are what keep it going.