Valentine’s Day was delightful when I was part of a romantic “we.” How I relished the candy, jewelry, cards, and plush toys. I delighted in dinner dates among other fancied-up couples packed into candlelit restaurants and the delivery of big bouquets that would sell for a quarter of the cost if ordered the week before or after Valentine’s Day. Then there were fun outings: ski trips, weekend hotel stays, couples spa treatments, and bed-n-breakfast getaways.
I’m now a single mom on Valentine’s Day.
Sometimes I feel quite sad when I recall past Valentine’s Days almost as if they were something I saw in a movie about someone else’s life. I no longer expect a flower delivery. I don’t freshen up, shave my legs, poof my hair, wear lipstick, and put on someone’s favorite perfume. No one hands me a little black box and waits with anticipation to see my expression while I open it. No one drives me to dinner, opens my door, and picks up the bill. And there is no one to appreciate my pink mini heart underthings after a Valentine’s Day massage that inevitably leads to something else.
These days I have a different kind of Valentine.
He’s almost eight now, and every February I ask him if he will be my Valentine. Thus far, he’s always said yes. So every February he goes with his grandparents, his chore money in his pocket, to shop for gifts for his Valentine. He selects huge chocolate-covered strawberries, gaudy costume jewelry with big, bright stones, and a blooming plant with purple or pink flowers. He cuts out a red, heart-shaped card, puts some stickers on it, and draws pictures of him and me–or laser guns blazing in a battle with alien robots–and then signs it neatly in cursive because now he knows how. We exchange gifts, and then we head out for a fun night.
We go out for dinner: my choice, but I usually decide on pizza or tacos. We talk about football, animals, Minecraft, school, Jesus, and farts. He giggles when I tell him I feel like a princess wearing the new jewelry he gave me. He blushes and says, “MOM, gross!” when I tell him our “dates” will give him good practice for when he takes a girl out. We then go to the movies or Hinkle Family Fun Center for go karts, laser tag, and Mech Warriors. We laugh often and loudly.
That night when I tuck him in, we lie in his bed and read stories, talk about life, tell jokes, pray, and snuggle until he falls asleep. And every year I grin and thank God for my most precious Valentine.
The next day, I show off my new jewelry and tell my girlfriends that I spent Valentine’s Day with the cutest guy in town.
And I didn’t even have to shave my legs or poof my hair.
Originally published February 2016.