Forgive me for butting in on your business, this being a hectic time of year for you and all. But I had to write you about something that has been bothering me in the years since I became a mom: if you haven’t noticed, your holiday has been hijacked. By other little people who don’t sport wings and a bow and arrow. Three of them reside in my house and they’re not remotely ready for the idea of romance (okay, so maybe the fourteen year-old thinks she is). Yet they’ve co-opted what should be a celebration between couples for their own purposes.
For instance, have you ever noticed on February 14th how my husband hurries to leave love notes on the breakfast table for our daughters and in his haste forgets to even tell me goodbye? And the grandparents send along cards and candy hearts for the kids while the love of my life gives me… nothing?
It seems your powers of attraction have been redirected to cause parents to overexert themselves in being sure on this day of days that their children know they are cherished. They’re moved to gush over their offspring, whom they already cuddle and coddle. They shower them with hugs, gifts, attention. And at the end of it all, they give their conspirator in the scheme called “family” an exhausted peck on the cheek and a quick, ‘love ya, hon!’
I’m not sure that’s what you’re aiming for, Cupid.
I’ve been a victim in this hijacking myself. Reduced to tucking frilly cards in lunch boxes, writing chalk marker messages on our patio window and decorating heart-shaped sugar cookies. Oh yes, and I’ve been swayed into spending hours coaching my children to squeeze their names on the cheap character-themed greetings they exchange with classmates. I guess I should be grateful they haven’t convinced me to do it all for them. In the name of love, of course.
By the way, I’m pretty sure the kids don’t mean any of the sappy sentiments on those cards, except maybe for the ones they give to their best friends. But this isn’t a “friendship” holiday, is it? Or did I miss that chapter on the history of St. Valentine?
For once, dear Cupid, I’d like to wake to flowers on my dresser and champagne in the fridge. I’d be thrilled to break out a dress and heels for dinner on the town at a restaurant that doesn’t serve chicken fingers or macaroni and cheese. I could use a special day where the cards and wishes flowed only between me and my sweetheart.
Actually Cupid, what I really wish is that you had given me a warning about the influence over endearment held by babies and children. A heads-up for what was to come. I would have squeezed in more romantic fondues or steak-and-seafood dinners. I would have taken more chilly moonlit strolls and splurged on that carriage ride. I would have fussed more over gifts of tenderness in that brief span of years.
Then again, in those days I probably wouldn’t have believed your warnings, my cherubic friend. After all, I was too smitten to imagine bringing little people into our lives could do anything but multiply our devotion to each other.
Which in a way, it has. I have so much more to appreciate about my husband now. Like the way he can create a fishtail braid in a young girl’s slippery tresses. Or how he gently glues the heads back onto tiny plastic princess dolls to restore them for his own princesses. And have you seen how he bristles with a show of manly protection over the mention of a boy by our tween-aged daughter?
See, it somehow always comes back to those kids!
Yet for all the devotion and love flowing in our household, I wish I could, for one Valentine’s Day again, be the center of someone’s world. To attract again all that affection to myself. Which is why you should do something to reclaim your holiday for romance.
So what do you think? Will you take back Valentine’s Day from the youngsters?
If not, I guess I’d settle for a box of chocolates, a candlelit dinner at home with my husband and a snuggle in front of the lit fireplace.
While the kids wash the dishes and clean up the kitchen. After all, we have to give them some way of participating in the holiday they’ve hijacked. In the name of love.
By Lara Krupicka, a parenting journalist and mom of three, who enjoys doting on her husband of 18 years when she’s not focused on the kids.