I just finished making my Valentine’s cards! No, I’m not in 2nd grade. But do you remember what a thrill Valentine’s Day cards were in 2nd grade? I loved walking home with my brown paper bag decorated with doilies and stickers and stuffed to bursting with valentines from all my classmates. I couldn’t wait to lay them all out on the kitchen table. I’d study them while I sucked on a lollipop that came affixed to the card from the rich kid. These days my kids come home with their cards and tend to open the ones with candy first, which is most of them.
My daughter is the child who brings in the homemade Valentines Day cards. You know the one. Barely legible, with puffy stickers all over the front. You roll your eyes and think “overachiever”. And she is. But she makes those cards because she likes to and not because her mother makes her. My youngest son is happy to fold over the Harry Potter valentine and choose a sticker to close it with before scrawling his friend’s name on the card. Done. My oldest son never went in for valentines. I made them for him in kindergarten and I’m fairly certain he’s never given out a valentine since.
Here’s why I still make Valentines Day cards even now - I like to. I still get a thrill out of sparkles and glue and paper and pink. I know there’s therapy for that. Or maybe it is my therapy. The bigger reason that I make valentines is that it’s a chance to tell my kids how special they are. When I talk to relatives or friends I haven’t seen in awhile, it’s easy to tell them how amazing my kids are. But I don’t get enough opportunities to tell my kids themselves. And I know they need to hear it.
In a previous life, I had a job that involved working with teenagers and their families. I made a point of telling parents how amazing their kids where while their kids were standing right there. And if a teen asked me to write a recommendation, I always gave them a copy of what I wrote. I wanted them to hear why I thought they were so special. I don’t think kids hear it enough. They hear so many negative messages all day long from themselves and from their peers and maybe even from some adults. Countering those messages is important.
I worry that I don’t tell my own kids how special they are often enough. I guess it just feels awkward to come out in the middle of passing the broccoli with, “You’re such a kind person – that makes me so proud!” So I look for opportunities that present themselves. And Valentines Day does that.
You don’t have to make homemade cards. There’s plenty of them for sale at the store or maybe you even have leftovers in the basement from years gone by. I pulled out the leftover Transformers valentines for my hubby to give the kids. Bigger Valentines are good though. There’s more room for all the mushy stuff you want to say.
I hope you use this Valentines Day as an excuse to tell everyone around you how much you love them. We shouldn’t need an excuse, but it does provide perfect cover from skeptical kids. They can’t wonder why you’re saying this now. It’s Valentines Day after all! However you do it, be sure to find ways to tell your kids what you love about them. They need to hear it and we need to say it.
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My first novel will be published this summer (Aug 2015) by Story Plant. It is a work of womens fiction titled, I'm Not Her, which explores what it's like to live in someone else's shoes (quite literally), especially someone who is nothing like you (as far as you know).
I'm a true believer in Living Intentionally. In fact, I wrote a book about it - Live Intentionally: 65 Challenges for a Healthier, Happier Life. I teach workshops on the topic and constantly seek to discover more ways to make every moment count.
I'm also a reluctantly busy mother of three remarkable children, one large partially-trained horse who seems to have a vested interest in unseating me, two bossy mares, an almost-daily changing number of chickens, one dog with impulse control issues but a sunny outlook, and 3 perfect kitties. I am blessed with an incredibly patient husband who can fix or build or tolerate almost anything. We live on 6 acres on a hillside in South Central Pennsylvania where anything left unattended ends up at the bottom in the creek (including the children).
I'm currently seeking a publisher for my young adult novel, Blind Turn which tells the story of honor student and model daughter, Jem, in the aftermath of a deadly texting and driving accident.(If you'd like to publish it, contact my agent Tina Schwartz at The Purcell Agency!).
I am currently at work on a new novel also for Story Plant. Shew! I'm busy.But it's a good busy.
In my spare moments, I run, hike, cook, and drink much too much wine. I also trail my teenage children around at games, concerts, and practices, embarrassing them whenever possible. To keep the chaos going, we're a foster dog family and welcome random strange dogs into our home on a regular basis.