One year, in the true spirit of Valentine’s Day bitterness, my 7-year-old screamed at me she was having “THE WORST VALENTINE’S DAY EVER!!!!”
We were moving that week and had spent all of Valentine’s Day (a Sunday) packing and cleaning over at the new house. I was six months pregnant with twins. When we got home, we were all tired and it was getting late. We set the table with our red heart placemats and put our cards out to exchange. I started cooking dinner while the kids and the dog ran around the kitchen. And then I burned the &#^$* out of my hand touching a plate I didn’t realize was still hot. And I started crying, because at that point I was just DONE. And I ran to my room. And then, of course, my sweet daughter comes running down the hall to see if I am okay, and I shrieked at her to leave me alone because at that point — I had done every single thing for someone else that day and not sat down for a second and I was really, really pregnant and I lost it.
So she goes crying to her room. So now there are three of us crying (I had accidentally knocked my son over while leaving the kitchen), Valentine’s dinner is burning, my fingers hurt like &$%!, and I am exhausted, overwhelmed and just need five freaking minutes to my tired-mom self.
And I can hear my daughter screaming from her bed, “THIS IS THE WORST VALENTINE’S DAY EVER. I NEVER GOT TO OPEN MY CARDS!!!!! THIS IS THE WORST VALENTINE’S DAY EVER!!!”
When you’ve ruined your beautiful daughter’s Valentine’s Day, which she has been so excited about, because you’re just plain tired out and overwhelmed, you have to make a choice.
Love is hugging your little girl in your lap on the floor until she stops crying about her ruined Valentine’s Day, even though your burned fingers are throbbing and the babies are kicking cartwheels in your giant belly.
Love is apologizing for yelling at her and admitting you were wrong and weren’t being nice.
Love is finishing dinner and eating melted chocolate together after the screaming and crying are over.
Love is opening cards together, made by sticky fingers, glitter, and paint in after-school art class and at the kitchen table.
Love is your little girl saying, “I know I said it was the WORST Valentine’s Day, but I changed my mind,” while you read to her before she falls asleep — after making dinner, doing dishes, painting walls, packing boxes, cleaning cupboards, doing laundry, sorting clothes, digging through closets, packing lunches, and grocery shopping all day.
Love is hard.
Because the thing about love is, that sometimes, and by that, I mean all of the time, it’s not about you. Love is for giving away, not for keeping. And Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to intentionally show our love to others. To show my kids how much their father means to me. To remind them of the importance of staying in touch with and showing love to their grandparents. To purposely show their cousins we are thinking of them by sending a Valentine through the mail. To make the time for a special dinner on a weeknight, to throw some heart glitter around, to give each other silly cards, to dip chocolate-covered strawberries even though my 2-year-old twins make a giant mess, to read the words of affirmation in each card to each other.
If there’s one thing being a mom has taught me, it’s that I have a greater capacity for love than I ever thought possible. What better day to have an excuse to share LOVE with others and to show your children how important and powerful love is in this great big unkind world? Hallmark may give Valentine’s Day a bad name, but that doesn’t mean — in the words of Bon Jovi — love needs to be given one either. (Yes, of course, I ended on a cheesy ’80s love-ballad reference!) Happy Valentine’s Day!