Things I Love the Most

This Valentine's Day I've come to a shocking conclusion: my internal list of Things I Love Most in the World has radically changed. Oh, of course I don't mean friends or family and all that. They will always be on it. I mean things like, say, Godiva chocolates, fancy jewelry or Paris in the spring. Somehow, when I wasn't paying attention, they've fallen off the list and have been replaced by leak-free diapers and stain remover. Now I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that such a sophisticated, sane person like me can't possibly love stain remover more than Godiva chocolates. And there was a time that I'd say you were right. But that was before I became a mother of a child-who-goes-through-tee-shirts-like-Kleenex.

In fact, and this may come as a shock, having children has caused me to appreciate things I never thought appreciable.

So, for Valentine's Day, I've made a new list of Things I Love Most in the World:

What I loved before having children: Discovering a romantic hide-a-way for two.

What I love now: Discovering a spare pacifier wedged between the cushions in the back seat of the car.

Before: Fredrick’s of Hollywood lingerie.

Now: Bathing suits with skirts.

Before: Listening to public radio.

Now: Listening to the neighbor's dinner conversation through the baby monitor.

Before: Spending time alone inYosemite Valley.

Now: Spending time alone inside the bathroom.

Before: Dancing until midnight.

Now: Going to bed at 7:30.

Before: White River rafting down the Russian river.

Now: Staying dry during bath time.

Before: Loud heavy metal rock concerts.

Now: A baby swing that doesn't screech when you rewind it.

Before: The portrait of Monet's Garden.

Now: The crayon picture, stuck to the refrigerator, of me as a tall, purple stick figure with a lolly-pop head.

Before: A dozen red roses.

Now: A sturdy swim diaper.

Before: Sensitive men who are in touch with their feminine side and not afraid to share their innermost thoughts, feelings and emotions.

Now: Men who paint.

Before: Champagne.

Now: Juice boxes.

Before: The Macarena.

Now: Macaroni.

Before: Harrison Ford, Dennis Quad, and Richard Gere.

Now: Arthur, Franklin, and "Steve".

Before: Traveling across Europe with a backpack and a Eurorail pass.

Now: Walking down the driveway to get the mail.

Before: Imported Italian leather.

Now: ScotchGuard.

Before: Anything Armani.

Now: Anything preassembled.

Before: AMaking it all of the way up Half Dome with nothing, but a rope, a backpack and my bare hands.

Now: Getting a straw all the way inside of a juice box without poking a hole through the sides and dripping red punch down my leg.

Before: Long love notes.

Now: Short picture books.

Before: Veal chops in Dijon mustard sauce and grilled Atlantic salmon over pasta with raspberry butter.

Now: Strained baby peaches.

Before: French cologne.

Now: Desitin.

Before: Hot red sandals.

Now: Orthopedic tennis shoes.

Before: The quote, "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breath and height my soul can reach, when feeling out of sight for the ends of being and ideal grace."

Now: The words, "Mommy, I love you."