The Problem With Valentine’s Day

There are two kinds of people in the world; those who love Valentine’s Day and those who hate it. You may move back and forth between the two groups depending on the status of the relationships in your life at the time, and you’ll likely have mixed feelings about the holiday if you’re being truly honest with yourself. If you think about it as a day to celebrate love, well, what could be bad about that? Love is awesome. Love is what makes us feel alive. As much as it seems the world is so full of hate much of the time, the truth is love is all around us if we’re open to seeing it. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about romantic love only. We love our families, our friends, our pets, nature. However you give and receive love, it’s something to celebrate everyday, not just on February 14th.

But I’ll tell you why people hate it (because, believe me, I’ve been there more years than I haven’t)…COMPARISON. Comparison and pressure. Talk about killing the mood. Especially today when scrolling through your social media platform of choice can easily nudge you, like a kick to the groin, into a downward spiral of self-loathing, jealousy, and all sorts of existential questioning. All of it bullshit, by the way. You’ve probably heard the saying, “Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes with other people’s highlight reel” (or something along those lines). That guy who bought his wife those gorgeous flowers and that sparkling diamond she posted a picture of on Facebook? Maybe he’s abusive behind the scenes. Maybe the sappy words that girl you knew in college posted about her man is only telling a small part of the story. And if you don’t know the whole story, don’t make assumptions.

I’m not saying it’s always that serious, but the married couple on Instagram gazing into each other’s eyes like one of them just came back from war, posting about how the sun rises and sets in each other’s pants? Come on. They disagree on things. They argue. They have flashing thoughts of holding a pillow over their spouse’s face until they stop breathing once in a while. Romantic relationships are hard. For everyone.  Think about your own relationship. I’m sure there are times you are totally lost in love, and there are times you question the whole institution of marriage. Sis, Bro, we’ve all been there. But anything worth having requires effort, so we work through the tough stuff to get to the prize at the bottom of the cereal box, because we know it will be so worth it.

It all comes down to perspective and realizing that people will only show you what they want you to see.  Seems obvious, but when we’re looking at a photo of the flowers Jennifer’s boyfriend sent her at work, or Paul’s post about how deeply in love he is with his gorgeous, spectacular wife, Melissa, their 2.5 kids, and Golden Retriever named Bo, it can be easy to forget. We see some version of “perfect” and we believe everyone else has it but us. Again, I call bullshit every time. There is no such thing as “perfect.” Maybe people can be perfect for each other other, or perfectly suited for a given role, but everyone has problems, everyone struggles sometimes, and everyone forgets how good they’ve got it once in a while.

When I was single, I HATED Valentine’s Day. Surrounded by gifts I wasn’t going to receive, couples I’d never be, focusing on the one type of love I didn’t have, rather than the other types that I was blessed with. I was sure I’d never find that type of love, wasn’t worthy, wasn’t desirable, was just all-around inadequate. Now, being married and a mama to the most precious gift I’ve ever received, my entire perspective on Valentine’s Day has changed. I do now have that type of romantic love. But, still, that’s no longer my focus. Now, on Valentine’s Day, I celebrate the love of family. That means not just the love I share with my husband, but also with my parents, my brother, brothers/sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews, extended family, friends I consider family, and especially my son. That’s a lot of people and a whole lot of love. I am so grateful for all of these people, and when I think about all of the people in my son’s life who love him, I am extra grateful. I believe we all have love in our lives, but we get so narrow-minded in where we notice it. If you truly look around and can’t find any love in your life, please reach out to someone (in-person, online, somewhere) and connect, get help, and most of all, love yourself. I may not be showered with material gifts on Valentine’s Day, but when my husband wraps his arms around me, or my son snuggles into me, or I’m spending time with my parents or best friends, I feel so much love, and my heart is full. What’s more worthy of celebration than that?

V Day breakfast for my Roo. It may not be Pinterest-worthy, but it’s heart-shaped. So, at least there’s that.

I’m a Total Cliché

In case you’re wondering why I spelled “tRoo” with a capital “R” and two “O”s, no, it’s not because “true beauty” was already taken and I just couldn’t let it go. We’d decided very early in my pregnancy with our one and only child that, if it was a boy, we’d name him Joseph after my husband’s grandfather. Since a Joey is a baby kangaroo, I decided immediately upon finding out it was, in fact, a boy that my nickname for him would be Roo. I’ve had visions of him calling me from college someday saying, “Hey, Mom, it’s Roo,” because, ya know, that’s our thing and he will always love his mama. And, since he is the embodiment of everything that is beautiful and right in the world, he is my inspiration.

Yes, when it comes to my son, I am every sappy, eyeroll-inducing, make-you-throw-up-in-your-mouth-a-little cliché. I admit it. I love him to the moon and back, he is my sunshine, mama’s little man, he’ll always be my baby, and so on, and so on, and so on. Feel free to groan and mock me. I’m at peace with it. In fact, I love it.

I was never a woman dead set on having kids in the first place. But, man, the thought of missing out on this makes me want to punch myself in the uterus. I never wanted to say it out loud because I do realize it sounds condescending to people who don’t have kids, and that is certainly not my intention (whether you want kids but have been struggling to get pregnant, or you don’t want kids at all, I got nothin’ but love for ya). But, damnit, I’m gonna apologize in advance and say it anyway because it’s also very real… You just can’t fully understand this love until you have it. Nothing else is quite the same.

When I am in my darkest hole (and it can get pretty dark in there), his smile lures me out. For the first time in my life, I feel like I have a purpose and a meaningful identity; he is my every reason and ignites every fiber of my being. Being a mom, though, has also brought to the surface some of my greatest fears, some unthinkable thoughts, and merciless anxiety. He is perfectly well-adjusted; I’m the one with attachment disorder. I don’t want to go anywhere without him. I just want to smooch on his smoochy little face all day long and hear his laugh echoing in my ears.

My dream is to someday be able to work on my own terms, so I can spend more time with him. There’s really no such thing as work/life balance when your kid is your life and that just bears so much more weight than anything else possibly could. But I thank my lucky stars each and every day that I was blessed with him. I also know I can’t let him be my life raft, and I hope he never feels that he is. For him, I need to build strength, both IMG_20180908_075655physically and emotionally. For him, I need to do better. For him…well, that’s really all there is.