Valen­tine’s Day prom­ises: love and ro­mance

The Covington News - - Sunday living -

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.

Kari Apted

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