Valentine Schmalentine

kiss_cutoutMy High School sold carnations on Valentines Day to raise money.  Girls like Cynthia Gerardi (the most beautiful girl in 10th grade) and Courtney Funston (the blondest and cheerleader-est) got ten, twenty, I don’t know, eighty-seven flowers each, either from boys hoping to capture their hearts, or girls hoping to ride their wave of popularity.

I got two.  One from my  gay friend David, and one from my best girlfriend, both of whom understood all-to-well what it was like being the only kid in school who didn’t get ANY flowers at all.

When I was in college, my boyfriend couldn’t win.  If he sent flowers, I thought it was  a cliche, that he didn’t care enough to be creative.  The Shakespearean sonnet he sent one year was great…but when he tried it again the next year…not so much.  Lingerie was a lose/lose prospect.  If he bought my actual size, I’d be insulted that he saw me as so big.  If he bought it too small…well, it would be too small, and trust me, a big girl in a little teddy is nobody’s idea of a good time. I finally had an actual non-gay boyfriend and I turned Valentines Day into a tightrope of Hallmark Cards strung over a vat of bubbling chocolate.  And there were rose thorns everywhere.

In my post college single days, every Valentine’s day was fraught with meaning.
Would the guy I was seeing take me out that night and if he didn’t what did that mean?  Should I give a Valentine to that cute guy at the coffee shop, or would that be like wearing a sign that read desperate and dorky?  If there was no date, was going out with friends pathetic or a statement of our independence?  Would I  run from the office screaming if I had to  hear the receptionist at work gush loudly over yet another flower delivery that wasn’t for me?

But now, I’m married.  I don’t really care about getting flowers, I don’t want candy (post 40-spread, anyone?), and I don’t expect much romance.  Love, consideration, affection, support.  That’s enough for me.  At least from my husband.  So last year, from my kids, I wanted something more.

My kids had been in a heart-shaped frenzy for days leading up to the big event.  We baked cookies, we made cards, we found every heart sticker on the Upper West Side and stuck them on everything from my coffee mug to their toilet seat. My son’s teacher, whose birthday happened to be Valentines Day, threw a big party in school.  There were cupcakes and candies and more from my daughter’s class too.  It was like a giant cavity inducing orgy.

For me, it was like being trapped in red-foil box filled with artificially flavored chocolate:  kind of nice, but ultimately, it made me a little sick. But just to make myself feel even worse, on Valentines night I made dinner with my kids from the Spatulatta cookbook.  Chicken with heart-shaped peppers and heart-shaped ravioli.  (When I throw up from the cuteness of it all, what comes up will be heart-shaped, I bet.)

So you must be thinking, her kids must have really appreciated all that!!  They must have showered her with love and affection and promised never ever to grow into surly teenagers who think she knows nothing, nothing at all, so wonderful and giving a mother was she.

HA!  Know what they gave me for all my faux holiday faux enthusiasm?
Nothing. Nada.  Valentines Day was my only heart-free (heartless?) day of the week!

I know I shouldn’t have cared.  Valentines Day is for lovers, not mothers.  But to my kids, this is a major national holiday (thank you Hallmark marketing department), and last year, they thought of everyone but me.  I know they love me. I know all I do for them matters to them whether they know it or not.

But blah blah blah.   I wanted the goods.  I wanted the macaroni necklace, or the fabulous card made from doilies and glitter.  You know, the one that reads “Werld’s Bestest Mom”  Instead, I got to clean up the kitchen after they made a mess making dinner.

Where are your gay friends and girlfriends when you need them?

In fairness, my husband  came home with a single rose and a lovely, heartfelt, handwritten card. (Ten points to the husband!)

So I guess that’s what matters.  My husband cares.  My kids…what do they know anyway?  Their job is to be loved…not be appreciative.  And when I tucked them in that night they each said “Happy Valentines Day, Mommy.  I love you”

It wasn”t no macaroni necklace…But there’s still this year!! And I’m keeping hope alive!


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