Valentine’s Day promises: love and romance
My Valentine’s Day promises to be completely devoid of romance. But it’s only devoid of love if I let it be.
I have a husband, and ideally, we’d make a fuss over each other as we usually do every Feb. 14. Trouble is, he agreed to another family commitment that day, so chances are, I won’t even see him this Thursday.
I’d like to say that I accepted that news with grace and dignity, but I didn’t. I pouted like a toddler who dropped her lollipop in the dirt. I’m guilty of always trying to create an event, to fill every holiday with special moments. So when life interferes with my grand plans, I’ve been known to throw a little tantrum or two.
Fortunately, I’m married to the nicest guy in the universe, and my anger was extinguished rather quickly as I realized that he had a pretty good reason for deserting his favorite valentine. We tried to figure out a way for me to go with him, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Oh well, what’s that thing about absence making the heart grow fonder? We can always have a date together later.
So I am just “ Mom” for Valentine’s Day, struggling to feel the love as I force my sons to sign 100 little valentine cards in time for their big homeschooling group’s party tomorrow. They’d rather scrub the kitchen floor with a toothbrush, and I just might make them do that if they don’t stop fighting over the box of “American Chopper” valentines. I completely understand their distress — I mean, nothing says love like a fat tattooed guy in a ratty tank top, posed beside a custom motorbike. I can only hope they’ve saved the big “ teacher” card for me.
My valentine curveball is just another way that life is teaching me to be content with what I have. Honestly, I will be happy this Thursday night to just kick back with a Dove truffle, watch “ Survivor” and root for my friend Tiffany’s sister, Natalie, to win the million dollars.
Natalie is getting to do something that few people will ever experience. The vast majority of us will not have an extraordinary life. We get up, go to work, come home, take care of the family, go to bed and get up the next day and do it all over again. If we don’t learn to enjoy these ordinary moments, and the people we share them with, we’ll never experience true contentment.
Sometimes the greatest struggle is in being content with who I am. Most women I know battle the same problem. It’s like some ancient taboo; we are not allowed to celebrate our beauty or our gifts and feel compelled to dismiss compliments when other people notice the good things within us.
I want to learn how to truly love myself instead of dwelling on my many shortcomings. I must stop thinking about how much better life will be when I lose 50 pounds or publish a book or finally achieve financial comfort. When I reach those goals, the horizon line will still be the same distance away.
In the same way, I must truly begin to love and appreciate those I’m fortunate enough to walk through life with, instead of dwelling on all the little ways they drive me crazy. I can’t wait to love them after they change their behavior, because chances are that they won’t change — and I’ll have missed the joy they could’ve blessed me with because I didn’t take the time to look for it.
My gift this Valentine’s Day is a gift to myself and my family: to find contentment with where we are, in who we are, and to love and cherish this time we have together.
Psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers once said, “ When you come right down to it, the secret of having it all is loving it all.”
For me, that means loving the absent husband, the overweight reflection in the mirror, the hyper children — and their precious crayon hearts scrawled upon an American Chopper valentine.