Last year during February, I stole an idea off of Facebook to create “love” boxes. They were basically like the mailboxes grade-schoolers make so that their classmates can deliver valentines to them, but for us to use as a family. So, the boys and I decorated boxes and for the first half of February then wrote each other little notes every day telling one another what we loved about them.
It was a nice idea and I enjoyed introducing Valentine’s Day not only as a time for celebrating romantic love, but for honoring the important people in our lives that we love. The boys enjoyed it, although some of the notes were a little contrived. And C’s notes to me always seemed to revolve around food, e.g. “I love you because you made my favorite dinner” or “I love you because you packed my favorite snack today”…I learned that the way to his heart did seem to be through his stomach.
I’m not a big Valentine’s Day fan. I never really have been. Maybe it has something to do with that “contrived” factor. I think we should strive to show those we love that we love them all the time–not just on February 14th because there are cards and candies and flowers and impossible standards to be bought. And then if the Valentine’s Day reality falls short of expectation, there is that feeling of not being loved enough. Or for those people who don’t have a special “other” in their lives, perhaps a feeling of not being loved at all. And I don’t believe that anyone out there should ever feel that way because it is never true. So Valentine’s Day does serve a purpose if we use it as a good reminder to acknowledge those special people in our lives and let them know what it is about them that makes us love them so much.
I remember being in grade school and reading through my Valentines and wondering if there was any “meaning” behind any of those little notes…did little Johnny give me his favorite Star Wars character as a Valentine? did he sign it “Love, Johnny”? did that mean he “liked” me? And writing out those Valentines was stressful…would so-and-so read too much into what I was sending? Would Johnny know that of all the puppy valentines I sent that the one I gave him was the very best?
As my kids entered school it didn’t seem to be as stressful. I thought that maybe they had de-emphasized Valentines and the whole “will you be my Valentine?” and whom is whose Valentine business. Maybe it is because I make Groundhog Day THE holiday to truly celebrate in February…I’m not sure.
But the other day I found a scrap of paper among some school things that read “did you tell [name omitted to protect the innocent] that you promised to be his valentine?” and there was a “yes” and a “no” meant to be circled. My heart skipped a beat. One of my sons was trying to figure out if the apple of his eye was already promised to another! This was the beginning. The beginning of the end of Mommy being the A #1 in his world. And the beginning of the crushes and the heartache and the puppy love and the first love and the unrequited love and the “i don’t love you like that” love and the “i can’t live without you” love and all the other great loves of his life to come.
Luckily, the “no” was circled and I knew that at least my boy hadn’t yet felt that sinking feeling that the person they thought was special might actually think someone else was more special than they were. I also felt a sort of giddy happiness in realizing that despite all my fears about the boys growing up too fast and this world turning them into digital kids without proper social interaction and relational abilities that kids still pass each other notes with a yes/no option!
Nonchalantly, I asked little Romeo about his note and he answered sort of offhand and assured me that he was just looking out for Juliet’s best interest and wanted to confirm that she hadn’t “promised” herself to anyone despite hearing such proclamations from another would-be suitor. When I suggested that he might want to give her a special Valentine ( we are giving Valen-slimes this year), he thought maybe he would–in addition to giving his special male friends something extra too…since as I explained it–Valentine’s Day is about telling those special friends that they are special. It doesn’t have to be about mushy-gushy love stuff.
And no sweeter words ever reached a mother’s ears when he said, “Really Mom, I just want to have YOU as my Valentine”.