Measure of a Mom: Why I Go All Out On Valentine’s Day

February 6, 2014  |  

I love Valentine’s Day. I mean, love it. Not because of the flowers, or the candy, or any other grandiose romantic gestures (I set the bar really low.). It’s because for me, after the hustle and bustle of Christmas and a month of failed resolutions, February is the time of year that I can at least pretend that I’m one of those moms who’s got her s#!t together; the ones who come to school drop-offs and pick-ups on time and perfectly coiffed, are at every PTA meeting and bake sale, and host the most elaborate birthday parties and sleepovers.

It’s this time of year that I compensate for the nights that I served up cereal for dinner and the weekends that I hijacked the TV in the living room to indulge in a Real Housewives of Atlanta marathon. February is my make-up month.

It actually starts mid-January. That’s when I begin planning the over-the-top valentines for my kids’ classes. And not just any valentines–the best. I know this because every year I spend all day waiting for the little ones to come home from school so they can tell me what their classmates said about them, sparing no details of course. Every year I tear through their treat bags to see my competition; scoffing at the store-bought paper valentines with silly cartoon characters, having the nerve to judge those parents for half-assing it. For that little bit of time — that small fraction of the year — I don’t feel like less of a mother. Because of something as trivial as a valentine, I suddenly feel pretty good about myself as a parent. That is– I felt pretty good about myself as a parent.

This year is different, thanks to my five-year-old daughter and one Doc McStuffins.

As I flew through the store looking for just the right touches to finish my valentines, my daughter stopped in front of a display of paper ones of the Disney character Doc McStuffins. I knew it was coming before she even opened her mouth.

“Mommy! Can we get these?”
“Mommy’s making better valentines for your class sweetie,” I said, trying to reason with a five-year-old in the middle of a crowded store.
“But I love Doc McStuffins and all of my friends do, too!” she argued.

What was I supposed to say to that? Sorry honey, you can’t get the valentines you want because mommy has to show off to all the other mommies in the class.

So, reluctantly I bought them thinking that she’d either want to play with them or forget about them by the time Valentine’s Day rolled around anyway. I was wrong.

Later that day she caught me working on my valentines again. “Why are you still making those if we already got some from the store?” she asked with a puzzled look on her face. Um…busted!

I had to think: Why was I doing this? Why was I spending all of this time and money and putting myself through all of this stress just to prove to some strangers that I’m a good mother? More importantly, did it mean anything to my kids? Did it make me any better of a mom than the ones who picked up a box of the paper valentines with the cartoon characters on them; the ones that their kids probably wanted? Not at all. All those valentines did was reflect my insecurities as a mom.

It’s not the valentines that matter. It’s not the PTA meetings, the bake sales, or the birthday bashes. What matters is the work that I put in behind-the-scenes; from our mundane everyday routine to our special family Valentine’s Day celebration. Those are the things that shape who my kids are, and who they are is the real measure of who I am as a mother.


Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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