Happy Valentine’s Day!
In my childhood bedroom, I still have a framed card with a personalized poem that my dad wrote for me on my very first Valentine’s Day. Having read that card so many times, I can recite that little poem by memory backwards, forwards, and three-times fast. His first child, a daughter, I was his little Valentine and he will always be my first Valentine. Happy Valentine’s Day Dad!
When I met my E, Valentine’s Day took on a new meaning. I was in love, so a day celebrating love was fantastic! E made sure to always give me a little gift, nothing extravagant, but something just right to show that he was thinking of me. On one of our first Valentine’s Days together, he gave me a little stuffed Sesame Street ERNIE doll because I had told him in previous conversations that Ernie was my favorite from the Street. I usually get a sweet card expressing his love and I have each and every one of them stashed away in my drawer (along with anniversary cards, birthday cards, just because cards…I am a bit of a hoarder).
When we had J, Valentine’s Day took on an even different meaning. Now I had my very own little Valentine and I made sure to get him a special card like my dad had done for me. I wrote him a loving note and stashed it away in his baby book for him to discover when he’s older and needs reminding that his mama really does love him so, so much. I did the same for B and now for Baby M. E got into the spirit too and one year he had J dressed up as Cupid to bring me small presents and a rose. It was too precious for words.
E always wants to “surprise” me with breakfast in bed or to make me a special meal. Usually, that never seems to work out for a multitude of reasons. One year, he attempted to make special Dutch pancakes, a favorite of ours from Aruba (yum!). He ordered a special pan and special batter from Holland and he spent the morning cooking in the kitchen with the kids. When I came down to the kitchen, it literally looked like an explosion occurred. I smiled and tried to enjoy the ride, despite the mess. There was batter everywhere and E looked flabbergasted. We tried the pancakes and they weren’t nearly as delicious as they were in Aruba, but I appreciated the gesture more than I could ever explain to him. It was one of the most thoughtful things he’s ever done for me (and he truly has done a lot). This year, being a Milk Free Mama, figuring out what to eat is hard enough, so I am thankful that E didn’t even attempt to make me a meal. Who needs that stress!
With that being said, I do think it is very important for my three sons to see their father shower me with love and affection. In 2013, the holiday season came at the same time that we were expecting Baby M. As a tradition, started with J, my husband gave me a “push-present,” with each baby. J’s delivery was extremely traumatic, so I definitely earned my sapphires (more on that another time). With B, came more expenses and at the time, less money, so when E brought up the idea of a push-present, I made sure to tell him that he could combine it with my birthday gift and that it didn’t need to be as extravagant. But my husband likes nice things so he made sure that I got something special. It worked out perfectly. Being that Baby M was born over Chanukah, I again told E that my gift could be a combo. When he absentmindedly asked me what I wanted for the holidays, I reminded him about the push-present and that if he wanted to, he could just buy me a little token gift to exchange when we lit the candles. I constantly remind him that a gift from him doesn’t need to be costly or extravagant, it could be a doll like he got for me on our first Valentine’s Day together. I just want to know that he’s thinking of me, since I am always thinking of him…
You see, I am a big believer in special occasions. I love holidays and birthdays and I grew up with the notion that happy moments are worth celebrating. Since I spend the most time with our children, I make sure that for holidays and birthdays, the kids always make E a card and get him a present. They are actively involved in the planning and the giving. I want them to see how much I love their dad and I want them to learn about celebrating other people, not just themselves. That’s a very hard concept to teach to a small child.
So when Chanukah came and went and E completely forgot to get me that little token gift, I realized that more often than not, the kids do not see him give to me. Sometimes he’s just not with the kids long enough to help them plan a gift for me, sometimes he forgets the cards at work and brings them home when the kids are fast asleep. I started to worry that the boys would grow up thinking that a woman gives to a man, but that it’s not always necessary to reciprocate and I wasn’t happy with that. I talked to E and explained that it was really important that as a dad, he teach his boys how to treat a woman right – whether it be by doing the gentlemanly thing by holding a door open for a woman, buying a woman a celebratory gift, or simply saying I love you. At first, he kind of laughed it off, possibly a little offended because he knows that he does do for me… I know it too, but I wanted the kids to see it!
This year, for Valentine’s Day, E made sure that the kids got involved in planning something special. J wanted to get me flowers and E made it happen. He even helped J decorate a vase for the flowers with beautiful hearts. J is very concerned about romance and often dictates to his dad how to actually be romantic – he reminds E to tell me I am beautiful and to tell me he loves me and to “take mommy out on a date.” He constantly asks E to “marry mommy again, so I can be there too.” I swear, I don’t prompt him to say these things. Maybe one day, E and I will renew our vows so that J can participate in the excitement. B gave me a super-big hug this morning, which was all the Valentine I needed from him! E was so excited that he was able to help the boys be “good little men,” and I was so proud of E for taking what I said to heart and making it happen.
I will always worry about raising good men because there are so many rotten ones out there… But when you are lucky enough to find the right one, life looks that much brighter. I truly want to raise the right kind of men. I want them to be sensitive. I want them to be gentleman. I want them to write hand-written love letters instead of hashtags and texts. I want them to be intuitive. I want them to be respectful. I want them to be strong. And I want them to love fiercely.
I hope that as their first Valentine, I can teach them how to love with their whole hearts. I will try each and every day…
Valentine’s Day Smiles and Hugs & Kisses,