This past Monday, as I sat with my friend waiting on our pizza while our girls were in dance class, I watched her non-dancing daughter working hard on a hand-made valentine. She carefully cut out the shape in both white and tissue paper, made a quote in a bubble in her best hand-writing (given that she was using an ink pen) and began to color in the arms and legs with a purple marker.
I thought “Wow” and spared an extremely brief regret for the prepackaged valentines that I hadn’t even begun working on with my daughters.
Valentine’s Day has shifted shape for me over the years. Its importance used to be the color of the roses (what does it mean if he gives me white, or worse – peach?’), how many chocolates were in the box – and what kind. I heard women that I worked with say “I told him what I expect, and if he doesn’t come through, we’re done …” And (except in one case) I actually sympathized – with the woman.
But over the years, my sympathies have shifted. I ask Jeff to save his/our money, but to spend time on me instead. Never stingy anyway, he is always good for an extra warm snuggle (or three) on Valentine’s Day, even if he doesn’t always listen and brings me a card and a treat after all. He always has something for the girls, which is okay too: he is the first man that all three fell head-over-heels in love with.
If Valentine’s Day really is all about love, then (and forgive me for saying this) it really is about children too. It is about the mother who braved my driveway at midnight on a school day: she had to work so late but wanted her face to be the one that her sleeping daughter woke up to in the middle of the night, and then again in the morning.
If there are late-night giggles under my sheets on Valentine’s Day, most likely it is because the Princess made an inappropriate noise at our slumber party and set off the rest of us.
It’s not that Jeff and I are not still starry-eyed for each other. It’s just that it is much easier to get a romantic dinner reservation, not to mention a babysitter, on another night. We can fly under our girls’ radar on other, less suspicious nights. This day is about the small things that we can do to show our love for each other, and to everyone we that we care for… not just us.
Just before our pizza arrived on Monday night, my non-dancing young friend turned to me with a shy little smile and handed me the valentine she had worked so hard on.
He is just perfect.
May you spend this Valentine’s Day in the company of someone that you love.