Happy? Valentines Day.
I was 8 years old when I first had my heart broken. I had recently changed schools, had only two friends in my entire grade (both of whom had a different teacher than me) and had the biggest crush on a boy that I was convinced was the CUTEST boy for sure in my class, if not in the world.
A few weeks after we recieved our school pictures, after much of my own personal plotting and heart-drawing and fancy-name writing, I boldly walked up to my crush, who was seated atop the jungle gym and thrust out my hand, holding a wallet-size image of my face and said “this is for you.” He briefly looked down at my photo, then glanced up to me and said “I don’t want that. You are not pretty.”
I was dumbfounded. NO ONE had ever said that to me before. EVER.
As tends to be my natural instinct, I initially responded by arguing with him. Obviously he was wrong and I was going to prove it. (a winning tactic to convince someone to “go out with you”, by the way). In response to my response, said boy took great lengths to disprove my arguments and to give me examples of WHO was pretty…all of whom had blond hair and wore Guess jeans; none of which had tawny skin, braided brown hair or a faraway look in their eyes. I quickly learned that buck teeth and Little House on the Prairie dresses were actually NOT that appealing to the male members of the 3rd Grade population… or to any members of any population, I was assured.
Thank God we get to grow up and move on from school and have other ways of forging relationships with members of the opposite sex than through declarations of our love on the back of miniature pictures… Unfortunately, this alleged “growing up” fails to protect us from the dreaded February holiday… VALENTINE’S DAY.
Yes, I know that I”m married and it’s not like I’m alone today, but I’m MARRIED. WITH KIDS. Despite radio and TV commercials that offer assistance in making “this Valentine’s Day the one your wife will remember with a gigantic diamond”, I will likely be pulling spaghetti out of the front of my hair at dinner tonight, of which halfway through I will realize that I have an Elmo sticker on my backside. We will get home early, whereupon I will put on my yoga pants and sweatshirt and crawl into bed, mouthguard in place, so that I can fall asleep in a pile of drool for an hour until someone wakes up.
When I was single, Valentines day seemed like a reminder that I have had a strong series of “Ugly Duckling” days, many plagued with fear of rejection, waiting for long-stemmed roses from someone I didn’t even yet know. Thankfully there was surgery to correct my lazy eye and braces for my teeth; unfortunately there has been no reversal available for my natural Apple Shape, which is more like Frump Girl than Golden Delicious.
After fighting my whole life to attempt some kind of flatness to my abdomen, thanks to the miracle of childbirth and breastfeeding, I now feature a mid section that extends beyond anything else on the front part of my body and hips wide enough to support overflowing laundry baskets - simultaneously, on each side of my body, all wrapped up in stretch marks deep enough to believe my flesh is actually made of corduroy. The only thing that really feels amazingly mushy about Valentines’ Day is my my stomach.
But, amazing in SO many other ways are three year olds wearing tutus and headbands. Seven year olds working diligently to write names of classmates on cards and One-year olds desperately attempting to eat anything within reach. Fathers who buy daughters potted plants and wives rare orchids, a day early, because they are going to be hanging out with Strep-Throat struck children on Valentine’s Day. Sweet cards individually wrapped in red envelopes from Great Grandparents for Great Grand Children, M & M cookies dyed pink to amaze and astound little girls and the remnants of 1st Grade Valentine’s cards on my kitchen island.
So, for the sake of color and whimsy and wide-eyed delight at all of the heart-shaped sugary wonders, HAPPY Valentines’ Day.