There was a time in my single days when I was one of those girls who totally poo-pooed Valentine's Day. I had a whole spiel about how it put too much pressure on guys to "perform" and impress and prove themselves worthy, and that it would only matter a lot to me if there were something severely lacking in the rest of my relationship. Well, that last part I sort of still agree with. But that part aside, of course it's really easy to blow off a holiday that is irrelevant to you anyway. Easy to tell yourself that those suckers with their balloons and their flowers and their chocolates and their teddy bears are just wasting their time and money. Oh...for the record, the men giving their grownup women teddy bears *are* wasting their money.
Through the course of my marriage, I don't remember thinking too much about Valentine's Day. This was probably mostly because it fell right in between our two anniversaries (a result of the two weddings in different countries), so to celebrate it seemed a bit much in the way of relationship celebration in the course of three months. Also, I know I told myself I didn't care about it because to care about it would open myself up to disappointment if my husband didn't choose to do anything to observe the holiday. It had about as much impact on our lives as Arbor Day (if that reference rings a Naked Gun bell for you, you are my hero :)
I wasn't really sure how I would feel about Valentine's Day this year. Being smack in the middle of a divorce, I certainly wouldn't have been surprised if I'd awoken this morning with the desire to dress in head-to-toe black and walk around with a bottle of whiskey under my arm, humming a dirge.
In the days leading up to today, however, I found the thought of the impending V Day to have quite the opposite effect. I was getting excited for it for the first time since, I don't know, middle school maybe? Even though I didn't have a valentine, with the exception of my son (who is, after all, the best valentine I could hope for, and I'm sure he doesn't mind having me for a valentine for the time being anyway), I was happy at the thought of an entire holiday devoted to LOVE! As you may remember, I even baked cookies for the occasion a few days back :)
Today's New Activity: Feeling the Valentine's Day Love
I really don't know if this technically counts as a new activity as it's more an observation of a change in me than an action taken, but I'm going to focus on it anyway because it was very significant to me.
This morning I woke up with a feeling of fullness and hope and joy. The truth is that I used to wake up like that almost every single morning. I don't know if everyone has this, but when I was bored and in a doodling mood, there was a single word I used to doodle over and over again, over the course of many years! For me, that word was "joyful." It should have been the most glaring sign to me that in recent years I had no desire to write that word down. I can even remember thinking to do it on a few occasions, purely out of habit I guess, but when I brought pen to paper I just couldn't see the action through. Isn't that odd? Perhaps that should be my own personal litmus test for how things are going in my life.
Anyway, in the past week I've been "joyfully" doodling again. And when I woke up this morning, my outlook was triumphant, my spirit was singing.
About midway through my shift at work, my friend Liz sent me a sweet Happy Valentine's Day message, and writing back to her during my break, I had the chance to identify just what it was that was making me feel this kind of love for a day that used to just irritate me.
Far from being jaded this Valentine's Day, I am full of renewed belief in love. I don't even know that I've let that idea apply to romantic love just yet. The beauty of the feeling is that knowing any kind of pure, respect-filled, mutual, and enduring love exists out there is enough. I feel like, perhaps for the first time in my life, I appreciate fully what a gift it is to be loved at all. And the parental love I feel from my parents (especially in this past year, when I've leaned on them so heavily for support), coupled with the Mama's love I feel for my baby, feel like more than enough to sustain me for some time. The warm and caring love I've felt from my friends this past year has been a sweet, rich icing on the cake. That is not to lessen that Platonic love at all...just to say that I recognize I've had more than enough love all along.
I consider it a true blessing to find myself liberated this year from the obligation to observe (or not) Valentine's Day with a man who I can now admit never loved me--at least not in any consistent way that I could recognize as love, not in any way that I always thought being loved and being married to a man I loved would feel like. It doesn't make me sad to say that now. It makes me feel, well, like I said: liberated. It makes me feel free to open myself up to true love, the kind I know exists because my parents model it every day, after 35 years of marriage. I wrote about that once, some 9 years ago, and it remains truer than ever today. And even if that love is not out there for me anytime soon, or ever, it is enough to recognize and appreciate the pure love that already surrounds me.
I was excited all day today just knowing my baby would be home waiting for me when I got home from work, knowing my Mom was planning a special Valentine's Day dinner for all of us, and picturing the happiness my son and I would both feel when I gave him his little gifts.
The spirit of Valentine's Day may be about romantic love (and to anybody who wants to called it a "fake" or "made up" holiday, I say who cares? Aren't ALL holidays invented at some point in time? Even to those who talk about the dark or creepy origins of the day, I say who cares? all over again....I'm just interested in celebrating the version of it that is recognized today....sometimes it really is nice to just relax and go with the flow rather than dissecting too much or bothering with technicalities), but from this point on I pledge to make it about celebrating all the kinds of love in my life.
Happy Valentine's Day to my baby boy, Happy Valentine's Day to my wonderful parents. Happy Valentine's Day to my amazing friends, to my awesome brother, to my aunties and uncles and cousins, to my dog Juju, to my coworkers past and present, to the baristas at Starbucks, to the cast of Glee, to my favorite pair of jeans, to my ex-inlaws, to funny viral videos, to what remains in my bank account, to David Sedaris, to macaroni and cheese, to my laptop, to Target, to the new pink blossoms on the trees in my neighborhood, to Facebook, to clean laundry, to...