When you are a single mom, Valentine’s Day is not about heart-shaped chocolates, flowers and sexy lingerie. Nope. Not even close.
Valentine’s Day is about waiting until the last minute, and on the 13th, rifling through the reject cards at Target, then spending hours stuffing Pop Rocks and Sweet Tarts into teensy-tiny-eensy-weensy envelopes, then emailing my kid’s teacher at 9 p.m. for the class list because I can only remember 5 out of 23 students. And after the valentines are sufficiently stuffed with pure sugar, I’ll hop on Pinterest to search for a “healthy” snack that parents will approve and kids will actually eat. It will be something that looks simple enough, but in reality will take at least five hours to assemble—a ladybug made out of chocolate-dipped clementines or watermelon hearts with a cupid made of grapes and toothpicks. Yes, this is my life. On the most romantic day of the year, I will be reconstructing the god of desire out of fruit.
Holidays are redefined when you’re a single mom. My child’s teacher takes the place of the “other parent,” sending home cards from my child for all officially recognized public school holidays. Without macaroni hearts glued to construction paper, turkeys in the shape of my kiddo’s hand, and popsicle stick pumpkins, my fridge would be bare, and my heart, oh so empty.
Don’t cry for me, Argentina. I’m fine with it. At this point in my life, I don’t have time for a valentine. It is plausible. I’m not hideous or sporting a Hunchback of Notre-Dame physique. Someday I will attempt a February the 14th date. But right now, I would be the most distracted valentine in the world.
“Here’s a card. I didn’t have time to sign it because I had to pick up books from the library, do the grocery shopping, make a couple calls, cook dinner, and clean a guinea pig cage, so by the time I made it to the pharmacy the only card left was in Spanish and addressed to somebody’s grandmother —“Feliz día de la de San Valentín abuelita!” All the candy was picked through too, but I did find a Smurfs Pez dispenser in the parking lot. So, Happy Valentine’s Day!”
I have my daughter 100 percent of the time, save for a few weekends a year. Trying to find time to date is like trying to find a Barbie shoe at the bottom of a toy box or remembering what my boobs looked like pre-breastfeeding—pointless, disappointing and ultimately impossible.
This year, instead of making dinner reservations or shopping for a sexy black dress, searching for a witty and romantic card, or writing a poem, I’ll pick up my cracked-out-sugar-junky kid from school. Her lips will have a neon pink frosting mustache, and for the next three hours, she will be coming down from her sugar high, shaking and jumping up and down on the sofa screaming, “Just one more gummy heart! Please Mommy! I need it. I neeeeeed it!” I’ll wipe off her frosting mustache, kiss her forehead, and tell her to take it one day at a time.
While everyone posts annoying sentiments on social media like, “I love my hubs!” next to a picture of a dozen roses or chocolates, I’ll look over at my kid, who after the sugar shakes and possibly a little vomit, finally fell asleep. And you know what I’ll think?
I have never loved a valentine more.