Some holidays should come with a handbook.
I always thought there were just two camps on Valentine's day: the lovey-doveys and the bah-humbugs. I've fallen into a third camp, unbeknownst to me until a year ago - the mother f#$%$#%ers.
Before I had a child, Valentine's was simple. I could either embrace the day with my then love/like (who is now my eternal love+like) or trash it wholeheartedly with my girlfriends. Either way it was all about me. Now, I've got the pain in the ass of navigating social mores on behalf of my son. And last year, I got it oh so wrong.
I hadn't thought much about Valentine's until a bunch of Montessori Moms at my office had told me that the common practice was to give Valentines and lootbags to every child in the daycare class and gifts to the teachers too. Every Mom did this, they assured me. This seemed crazy, but what did I know? I was still new at this Mom thing.
It was 24 hours before the big day, which was about 2 weeks too late to prepare for the holiday with any sense of dignity or decorum. I had to come up with a plan, any plan, and fast. I did not want to turn Xavier into a social outcast at the tender age of 15 months.
Kids' Valentines and anything remotely festive had sold out throughout the downtown core. The smart shoppers had bought up what was available long ago. So, I hit the seedy Dollarama by my house and bought pretty much anything that was red or pink - and got creative. I made homemade crudely heart-shaped Valentines late into the night - agonizing over whether to write 'from Xavier', which sounded too casual, or 'love Xavier', which sounded too creepy. I wrapped heart-shaped post-its, crayons and animal crackers into little plastic bags. I curled ribbon, lots of ribbon. The next morning I chucked a card and gift bag in every kid's cubby, seething with resentment. Later, I called John at work to bring a bag for all of Xavier's gifts from his classmates.
The bag proved to be unnecessary.
I had been the only Mom to hand out any Valentines at all! The Montessori Moms had screwed me! And worst of all, I'd inadvertantly become that Mom - the Martha Mom, the one-upper Mom! The Mom I never wanted to be! Parents were sheepishly thanking me for weeks.
This year I got two boxes of Valentine's cookies for the class - which Xavier proudly carried to his teacher - and called it a day. The only problem? I forgot to buy anything for my own Valentine. Oops!
Happy Valentine's Day John! And happy Valentine's to all my readers everywhere!