I still remember our first date. The butterflies. The flirty smiles amidst hours of dinner conversation. The goosebumps I got when you touched the small of my back as we crossed the street. Catching you taking in the smell of my hair. In the salsa club you leaned in, paused, just for a moment, and kissed me. In that moment I remember thinking to myself, this just might be my last first date ever.

Luckily – you felt the same.

Since then we have experienced life side by side, my best friend, the other half of my heart, my co-adventurer, my safe place and biggest supporter of all time. After 5 years of marriage, 2 moves, a few job changes, many goals achieved along with 1 amazing little girl, even I can admit the sparkle from that first night can sometimes feel a little faded.

When we were new (and some might argue we are still somewhat new) I couldn’t wait to open my eyes in the morning, snuggle into you and say a sheepish good morning. When we were new it felt like any sleep at all seemed optional. When we were new it felt like time passed slowly and we had an infinite amount of it. When we were new we jumped at every opportunity to spend even just an hour together.

As our relationships grew and developed we were no longer new. We moved into a comfortable phase of life where we were secure in our shared love. We become accustom to waking next to the one another, have evenings together and other priorities start to creep in that round out our life together. The new became standard. The standard became the baseline.

Our sleep was overtaken by a baby in need. Our dates have been reduced to a quick dinner before daycare pick up, actual grocery shopping together or a more formal date once a month or so. And our bed can sometimes feel a little full with a third person a bunch of blankies and a few stuffed animals all wishing us good morning!

While not the lovey-dovey phase, this phase is where life happens and memories are continuously being made. I find myself trying to keep up, being present and taking in the moments as fast as they are coming. Often just wishing I could describe each of them as intimately as I did our first date. But the pace is so much faster, it feels impossible to do all the time.

So, my love and dear Valentine, my gift to you this year is the gift of slow. It’s a promise to slow down and appreciate you, our life together and all you do for me and our daughter.

Thank you for making our lives amazing. You take on responsibilities at home and with our daughter that most men would expect their wives to do. You do it because you are supporting me to create space to follow my dreams. You stretch yourself day in and day out to be healthy, giving and strong. You rationalize taking risks together so that our life still has excitement and some ‘planned spontaneity’ (parents you know what I’m talking about!!). You are on a constant cycle of upwards growth that leaves me inspired. You always love me with every ounce of your being regardless of the type of day you’ve had.

From random texts expressing your love to ‘just because’ flowers. From the attention you have to making my waffles just right to the way you kiss me on my forehead when you work a late night and find me in bed asleep.

The details are still there and I’ll make more of an effort to notice and appreciate so that when we are old and grey I’m still enjoying the perks of being your wife.

To a year of slow appreciation.

All my love,