#Lovin’ It

With abundant heart decorations in stores, my kids have expressed an interest in why we celebrate Valentine’s Day, and who their valentine should be (thankfully, it appears the only ideas coming to mind are Mom and Dad–phew!). It’s forced me to come to terms with my own experience with this well-intended holiday.

I have to admit, Valentine’s Day has never been my favorite holiday. While there was a lot of people in love, I wasn’t exactly loving it. I stressed out about who would be my Valentine as a teen and young adult, when I was dating I stressed about what to get my Valentine. How serious is this relationship anyway? What does my gift say about the relationship–it’s too serious or not serious enough? Hard to find the romance amongst all the stress. After getting married and had kids, I’ve stressed about trying to remember the holiday and take action on it. While I like the idea of romantic gestures, I don’t think they should be stress inducing or be limited to Valentine’s Day. My idea of what a romantic gesture has changed over time too. I used to crave flowers, jewelry or a fancy dinner. Now I treasure connection, conversation, handholding, foot rubs, or a simple card. They are gifts that require nothing more than thought, and time. They are stress free,  and I love them. It helps to think I can share this knowledge with my kids…hopefully they’ll avoid much of the unnecessary stress I experienced.

How have you explained Valentine’s Day to your child? What is the best stress-free gift you have given or received?

You’re Great!

Doesn’t it feel wonderful when loves you for who you are because they just do, without any strings attached? We don’t experience it often, but it feels great when we do.

We recently had some out-of-town guests. The mother in the family visiting and I have known each other all of our lives. Our families have been very close. She is like a sister. She has not seen my children in several years because of the distance, but that didn’t stop her from treating my boys like they were very special to her. She made a point to talk to each boy, asking them how they were doing and what they were up to, and encouraged them to share some of their gifts with her (e.g. their ability to read, draw, etc.). She cared. They felt it. It really made an impression on them.

My friends gesture made me think about where I have experienced this myself, or where I may have given this to others. I’m reminded of a friend from church who was much like a grandfather to me. He would greet me each week with a great big smile and tell me how glad he was to see me. He would often say, “We (referring to his wife and himself) just think you’re great.” It felt amazing. I didn’t do anything worthy of this praise, but it didn’t stop him. You could tell that he genuinely felt that way too. It was a gift to be the recipient.

While our guests were in town they were very busy: sightseeing, visiting with other friends and enjoying some outlying attractions. They weren’t at our house all that much, as a result. When my boys learned that my friend and her family would be heading back soon, they were sorely disappointed. “When can she visit us again?” and “When can we go visit them” they inquired. Wow, I thought, she really made an impression. While I’ve always cared for my friend dearly, I love her even more for sharing her gift of love, acceptance and joy with no strings attached with my boys. I don’t expect they’ll experience this very often, but know it will feel wonderful when they do.

How do you make others know that they are loved? How do let others know that they’re great?

Written to the One I Love

The class lists came home in my boys’ backpacks earlier this week, and we’ve been working on their Valentine’s Day cards ever since. I asked my sons what Valentine’s Day was all about. One son said, “Presents?” The other said, “No, it’s about love!” I continued my line of questioning. “So, why do you think we have a holiday about love?” One said, “I don’t know.” The other, “Because.” I love how simply they accept this holiday, and their willingness to show their classmates they care about them.

When I was eight years old, I had a crush on a boy named Greg. He went to another school and though I liked him, I rarely saw him. One day, a mutual friend found me and told me that Greg made something in school and wanted me to have it. She handed me a clay snake that Greg had made in his art class. I remember my heart racing, so happy to receive Greg’s gift. We were young, and our concept of love innocent. While his gesture was simple, it had a impact. He made me feel special.

I used to think love came in the form of notes, but Greg helped me realize it can take many forms. It can be in a card, or a song, a vulnerable moment, even in a clay snake. As my boys deliver their Valentine’s Day cards today, I’ll remind them that we can show others we care about them many different ways, and any day of the year.

How are you teaching your children about love? How are you encouraging them to show others they care?

 

What Makes Your Heart Sing?

Did you ever have the fantasy, as a child or young adult, that a secret admirer knew how incredible you were, somehow knew your favorite flowers and would pronounce their love for you bearing gifts on Valentine’s Day to the world?  Bear with me if you didn’t, because I had this Cinderella-type dream as a kid. I could visualize how it would happen, though couldn’t quite make out who my prince was. Regardless, the idea of some mystery boy being into me really made my heart sing, or, at least that’s what I thought back then.

As I grew older, I discovered Valentine’s Day might not be all it was made out to be. I stressed as a younger woman about having a valentine—not good for my self-esteem, the mystery prince was nowhere to be found, and as a mature adult the holiday seemed more confusing than satisfying.  Do people actually need to wait until Valentine’s Day to show or receive love from each other? That doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?

My children love Valentine’s Day, not because they understand what all the fuss is about, but because they know there’s a good chance they’ll get some Valentine’s Day-themed goodies from Mom and Dad. Chocolates that come in a heart shaped box—cool!  We make a point to tell our children we love them everyday, and often multiple times a day. And when they get older we’ll talk to them about the holiday and ways to really show someone you care as you experience it, not saving it for February 14th.

I love getting flowers from my husband, but love connecting with him even more. Talking about things other than work or the kids, getting a foot rub, or him taking my hand unexpectedly makes me feel close to him and really loved. To think that my husband and I have the opportunity to teach our boys how to express their feelings for someone they care about when they feel it makes me smile.

In fact, it makes my heart sing.

What makes your heart sing?