Redefining Romance in Parenthood

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I was thinking about Father’s Day the other day and almost had to laugh out loud at how MUCH our lives have changed since we became parents 4 years ago.   I mean, what did we DO before with all our time? It also got me to thinking about how much my idea of romance has been so drastically redefined since having our  two kids.  Things sure are different now, but I couldn’t imagine it any other way.  So this is a personal post in honor of the daddy in our house this Father’s Day!

I met my husband on February 20th, 1998 at Malarkey’s Bar in Newport Beach by the jukebox.  I wasn’t supposed to go out that night.   I was nursing a broken heart and crying to the Titanic CD in my room. No joke.  But my roommates got me in a party outfit and coerced me into going out with them to get me out of the “My Heart Will Go On” loop.

When I saw him across the room, I thought he was the cutest guy I had ever seen. I still do. It really was love at first sight. A couple hours later and with a little liquid courage, I spoke to him first. From that moment on we have been together ever since.

He called me two days later (this was the age of the movie “Swingers” – tell me you remember this part!) and asked me out to dinner. I bought new make-up, a new outfit and dreamt of where we would share our romantic first date.  He picked me up (still as cute as I remembered) and when we get in the car he told me he was thinking we could get pizza.

OH NO. PIZZA?! Really?  Major romantic red flags.  Months later after we had been dating for awhile I asked him, “WHY pizza?” His response? “Everybody likes pizza.” That quote still makes me laugh.  He’s practical, that husband of mine. And, he had a point.

As we talked over pizza that night, I found out that in addition to a shared hatred of mushrooms, we had lots more in common.  He listened more than he talked, asked me questions, and really genuinely seemed to care what the answers were.  He really was the nicest guy I had ever met.

But in the beginning I found myself hung up on his so un-romantic gestures. I once received a BBQ for a birthday gift (and didn’t ask for one) and a chimnea fire pit thing for the patio (huh?!)  There were no expensive restaurants or surprises. No wining or dining.  No romantic weekend getaways.  Except for that one time to Palm Springs. With a time share catch. Ouch.

But I am a fairly low-maintenance sort of gal and I fell in love with him and all of his endless amazing qualities over many more Malarkey’s night outs and pizza dates.  We were married just about 3 1/2 years later and started our family about 4 years after that.

When we had kids I had NO idea just how much my idea of romance or romantic gestures would be so drastically redefined.

Now romance is how he lets me sleep in on the weekend while he takes the girls grocery shopping.  Or how he makes the brownies for my daughter’s preschool snack day.

When we have a barfer, he immediately does the clean up as I hold the hair and bucket.

Now it’s romantic to me how he cleans the kitchen at night after the kids go down because I have to go blog and work.

Romance was how he was my biggest supporter as I wanted to leave a “real” job  (and paycheck!) and start my businesses.  He is the first to tell me I can do something. He puts my happiness above all else.

We are a TEAM as parents and in life.   He always told me that from the beginning, we are a team, way before we were even talking about marriage or kids.  I had no idea how important our little team would turn out to be.

But most of all, how his girls, all three of us, are his most important priority. We are first.  There is never a doubt.

He is my rock.  The yin to my yang.  My best friend.  The person I would rather be with above all others.   My most favorite person in this entire world.

So, if I had to tell my 23-year-old silly, hung up on where he would take me to dinner self, a lesson, it would be that there is a WHOLE lot more to life than expensive gifts or fancy restaurants.   The real, priceless gifts lie in the every day gestures.  The type of partner on YOUR team.

As my girls grow up, I know they will look at a man, their dad, that was always there for them. That made them #1, that sacrificed everything for them, that loves them no matter what, that treats them with love and respect.  And, when THEY go to look for a man to marry, I know they will have the same expectations.

So, this blog is two-fold, number one a thanks to MY DAD and a very happy father’s day.  Because he is the man that taught me how I deserved to be  treated.

And, to the father of my children, happy father’s day (and incidentally, happy birthday!) to a man who shows me just how much he loves us, every day, …in the most UN-romantic ways!


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  1. 1

    GREATEST post!!!! I can’t wait to meet him!! I’m thinking a family play date is in order very soon!! And BTW, we have so many similarities its crazy! 🙂

    • 2
      Jen says:

      Family play date sounds great. Should we get PIZZA?! Thanks for the comment!

  2. 3

    Love this post so cute. I am so happy the blog is doing so well and love reading the posts.

  3. 4
    AnnieB says:

    Wonderful Post! Happy Fathers Day!

  4. 5
    Cheryl says:

    This is SO sweet! I can relate on many levels . My husband is definitely part of the team! Thanks for sharing!

  5. 6
    JennyH says:

    Your post made my morning! I happen to know both you and your amazing husband and without a doubt you are the nicest COUPLE I have ever met!

  6. 7
    Jen says:

    All of your comments mean the world to me – thank you so much….happy father’s day to the daddies in your life !

  7. 8
    Gina says:

    Oh, now I think I’m in love with him :). That’s beautiful Jen – you guys really are an incredible team! Happy Father’s Day! xoxo

  8. 9
    tara says:

    Love it! and you do have a great guy!! : )

  9. 10
    celeste says:

    hi friend. beautiful post! i just sent matt a note last night with the same theme. thanking him for teaching his girls how to be loved so perfectly! such a blessing to have fallen in love with a wonderful man (i know i count my blessings everyday)…i too tell him all the time that the best gift he can give his children is his example! we are all very lucky ladies!

  10. 11
    Pam says:

    Jen, I am tearing up over here… So beautifully written. SO TRUE! XO

  11. 12
    Jennifer K says:

    Still getting over that you two met at Malarkey’s. That made me laugh out loud!

  12. 13
    Jen says:

    All of you have made my ENTIRE day with these comments! It is always a little bit of a vulnerable feeling when posting personal stuff, so THANK YOU for being so kind! XOXO

  13. 14
    Emma & Morgan says:

    We love out daddy!

    • 15
      Jen says:

      I am super impressed my 4 yr old knows how to comment and post! HA! Ok, who wrote that one….? Love it!

  14. 16
    Jessica B. says:

    I am crying as I read this because I feel 100% the same way about MY amazing husband. Guess we are some very lucky girls!

  15. 17
    jolie says:

    I remember the call “pizza. . ” followed by the explanation “everybody likes pizza.” You two have always been enough to make a person believe. . in all the most important things. Cheers to you, Jennifer, and the men smart enough to hoist you up on a pedestal and treat you like the goddess that you are!

  16. 18
    Jayelle says:

    Such a beautiful post!! I have been reading your blog for a while and it was sweet to see that side of your world. Got a couple tears and am appreciating my “team” that much more.

  17. 19
    Amy Martinez says:

    I married that exact same kind of man! AND just when I think flowers would be nice, I too get to sleep in on the weekend or have a few hours when he takes the kids grocrey shopping! That’s better then a candle light dinner 🙂

  18. 20
    Susanne says:

    Wow, that is the sweetest. You two are the sweetest! What a great pair.

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