I don’t think I’ve ever bought a valentine. My mother insisted we make them, and so my kids would, too. Lucky for them their father is an art director and I had a lifetime of valentine-making experience under my belt. As a result, we made some pretty cool, super-custom, and creative valentines over the years.
And, of course, my husband makes me a Valentine’s card each year. They’re actually a little bit famous. I won’t bore you with the details, but each year the card is eagerly anticipated by my friends. “What’s the card this year?” they ask. “Have you gotten it yet?” It’s truly a labor of love for my husband; he plans and works on the card all year long. And he’s been doing it for almost our entire 20-year marriage.
So, Valentine’s Day is somewhat special around here. Well, for two of us it is.
Over the years, I’ve watched Valentine’s Day change for my older son. Early on, he was excited about giving his little classmates his special cards. Later in elementary school, his cards were starting to be just a bit uncool.
“Can’t we just buy them like everyone else, mom?” he’d plead.
Then in middle school, Valentine’s Day doesn’t really exist. Kids are so awkward and confused. Who would you give one to? What would it mean? What if I gave someone one and didn’t get one back? Better to just ignore the day altogether.
In high school, Valentine’s Day becomes miserable. Unless you’re dating someone.Otherwise, you get to hear about what all the “couples” did. See the Instagram photos of flowers and candy, and know someone probably got kissed soon thereafter.
I’m assuming my son’s high school had some dark desire to make Valentine’s Day even worse for the uncoupled student population. Why else would they schedule a dance in mid-February? It’s like a double-whammy of misery for the unattached and immature. For those kids, Valentine’s Day isn’t ignored. It’s despised.
And while I watch his anxiety level rise as soon as the Christmas decorations are cleared out of the grocery store and the wall of pink and red cards arrives, I know someday he will feel differently about Valentine’s Day.
He doesn’t believe me. To my sweet teenage son, buying a card and candy for a special someone seems a million years away. Honestly, it seems like it will never happen.
But I know it will. I know someday he will find someone he will love as much as I love his father. And I know he will creatively and enthusiastically find some way to express his love for her each year, just like his father does with me.
It took me nearly 30 years to find my forever Valentine, I tell my son.
It’s worth the wait.