Even at a young age, Valentine’s Day just never registered for me. Being forced to bring in cards to all of my classmates, even the ones I despised, always felt shady. This approach continued on through high school where my very well-intentioned boyfriend brought me Valentine’s flowers to class to which I promptly word-vomited something along the lines of, “What the hell am I supposed to do with these?”
And without fail, every year I have to explain myself to friends and co-workers as to why my husband and I aren’t doing anything special for Valentine’s Day. I try to avoid the subject all together, but inevitably I will get asked to share our weekend plans. And when I don’t give the obligatory response of a nice dinner and a movie they stare at me for a second and then typically respond with something like, “Oh, did your husband forget to make a reservation?”
Knowing I need to defend my husband’s honor I have no choice but to divulge my thoughts on this very odd and forced holiday. I tell them my husband is forever off the hook for Valentine’s Day because I don’t like flowers that die in a day or the pressure of finding just the right crowded restaurant and joining hordes of other couples who are forcing romance in to their weekend.
And don’t get me wrong, I love celebrating love. I freaking love love. And my husband and I do plenty of things to celebrate our relationship year round. I just don’t feel the need to have a particular weekend pegged as THE WEEKEND of love.
As you can tell, I have strong feelings about Valentine’s Day. It runs deep. So would you believe me when I said I’ve had a change of heart? Believe me, it shocking, but it’s true. And it’s my son’s fault.
I picked my son up from preschool a week before Valentine’s Day and he asked me to go through his bag because he had a project he wanted to show me. By now I was used to pulling out coloring pages full of scribbles or pipe cleaner men with arms dangling. But this time I pulled something out I wasn’t expecting.
It was a Valentine’s Day card from my son. The front was decorated with random Cars-themed cards. I gave the required, “Wow bud, this is great!” reaction but he told me to turn it over. And on the back he had written Mom, Dad, Love.
That may not seem like much, but until that very moment I had never seen him write a word down before other than his name. He had traced some words in his reading book before, sure, but I’ve never seen my son’s actual standalone writing before.
It was a surreal parenting moment for me and I realized I forgot to breathe for a second, overwhelmed with emotions that I’m not used to showing this time of year. All of a sudden I understood Valentine’s Day. Not from the typical romantic side of things. That still baffles me. But from a different angle. A parent’s love.
Until my son is old enough to start caring for someone other than himself, my husband and I will be his Valentine. We are the love of his life and he is to us. And seeing that love in a handmade card gave this holiday a whole different meaning. One I want to celebrate.
Damn it Hallmark, just when I thought I was bigger than you.
Andrea Rhoades is the creator of Selfies to Selfless, a parenting blog for Millennials. She is passionate about exploring the unique challenges the newest generation of parents face. Follow her as she reveals the hopes and dreams, fears and failures of Millennial parents. Follow Selfies to Selfless on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!