When ranking the best holidays, Valentine’s Day has always been near the very bottom for me. My love/hate relationship with this lovely holiday began way back in high school. I was never the girl with lots of admirers, so I remember the flowers, candy, stuffed animals and trinkets that were not addressed to me. It was a bummer. Then when I did finally have an admirer, I wasn’t the best at choosing that individual and my dreams of love on Valentine's Day didn’t exactly pan out–last minute, dried up flowers from the grocery store parking lot sale and candy that a kindergartener wouldn’t even eat! So romantic. My husband, however, is quite the romantic and he doesn’t need it to be February 14th to be so. It was definitely worth the wait!
As a mom to two boys, I have gone from the girl with no admirers to the lucky lady with three! My first Valentine’s Day with a toddler began a tradition that we continue today. While others were vying for reservations at fancy restaurants, we knew we would need something a little different, a little less crowded and a little less formal. We ended up spending our romantic evening at Cane’s. We nearly had the entire restaurant to ourselves and no reservations were needed. Every year as we plan what we’re going to do, chicken is always on the menu. It’s not steak or a meal you can’t pronounce, but somehow it feels like an appropriate Valentine’s dinner for our little crew.
Being a mom on Valentine's Day is not half bad. I applaud and thank my sons’ teachers. Every year, the cutest little handmade gifts come home. While I may have once longed for things that sparkle, I now know that these gifts are the true way to my heart. Like most sentimental moms, I still have each little heart-shaped treasure stashed away in a special place. Now, rather than rolling my eyes at the aisles of red, heart-shaped tokens of love, I actually enjoy taking the boys to the store to pick out the little Valentine’s cards they’ll exchange with their friends. They love to write each name themselves and they can’t wait to pass them out. It’s also fun to go through the cards they receive at school and see all of the characters and treats that make Valentine’s Day special for elementary kids.
This once bitter heart of mine has learned that Valentine’s Day can be any day. For example, there’s not a week that goes by that Little Bud doesn’t run in with a flower he has picked for me. If it’s not a flower, it might be a rock or even a cicada shell. There are also lots of hugs and kisses and I’ll never forget the time PMan proudly told a daycare friend “That’s my mom.” As far as marriage, my husband and I try to celebrate love every day. After 18 years together, we still leave each other little notes and send random text messages.
When I think about the future of Valentine’s Day at our house, I know that handmade cards and fast food meals won’t always cut it once the boys have a Valentine of their own. However, I hope I can help them understand the importance of having traditions, no matter how unique or unconventional they may seem. I also hope they have love in their lives every day and that they find ways to celebrate and appreciate it in June, August or October. Of course, there will be Valentine’s days where they watch others in love while they wonder if they’ll ever find it themselves. It will be a bummer at times and they may even love to hate the holiday. But they’ll always have at least one Valentine in their lives–their mom.