I love Valentine’s Day. Not because I get lavish gifts or chocolates from my husband; we don’t actually exchange gifts at all. I love Valentine’s Day because it is an excuse to get crafty and to tell the people in my life that I love them. I slow down, I look at them a little longer and I take stock of what loving them brings to me.
About six years ago, I attended a friend’s wedding in the summer. I had just had my first child, finished grad school, and moved back east after three years in Colorado. During the reception a friend asked me, “What do you want to do?” While it was a simple question, it sent me into a tail spin. My friend was asking me now that I was back in New England, what was I going to do for work….I had just finished my master’s and had decided to take some time off from working to be home with my son. I didn't know what I wanted to do next and this very question was one I had long been avoiding, so I answered in a way that could be viewed as either profound, or profoundly ridiculous. I confidently stated, “I want to be a lover, I want to spread love.”
I could see my friend mulling this unexpected response over. On the inside, I was reeling. I blamed it on my new mom brain, I blamed it on my anxiety over my decision to stay home, I played it cool but I was thinking to myself, I no longer know how to engage in adult conversations.
What I know now, that I didn't realize then, was that motherhood changes you and something had indeed changed in me. I had always kept my feelings under lock and key; I chose a feeling of safety over vulnerability. Motherhood makes you raw and vulnerable. What I was trying to express that day was that becoming a mother had opened my heart in a way I had not predicted, and I wanted to continue to live and to love from that place.
I believe, and what I hope to pass on to my children, is that Valentine’s Day is a day to be a heart warrior: to be brave and live from an open heart; to look at those around you in a new way; to appreciate them and the gifts their lives provide your own. And so each year on Valentine’s Day, we get artsy and craftsy, and we get honest. We tell the people around us that we love them and more importantly, we tell them why.
My son resisted this idea at first. He told me it would be embarrassing because his friends would think he loved them. “Don’t you?” I asked. I let it go and the next day when we came back to it his appreciations flowed. They were sweet and genuine and a true window into the relationships he is forming with his classmates. As he shared his appreciations and we talked about what it means to be a heart warrior, or someone who spreads love, I thought to myself that yes, this is exactly what I want to be.