I used to like Valentine’s Day. Not in a romantic way, but as a kid. I liked all the ridiculous paper cards and the heart shaped doily crafts, and the heart shaped candies that taste like sugar and chalk and ruining your appetite for dinner.
Not that dinner was anything to brag about in my house.
In high school, Valentine’s became a little more complicated. Once it stopped being about friends picking the best puns on paper, I lost interest. If you had a boyfriend, there was weird pressure to be romantic – one of about a million things I suck at. I scoffed at teddy bears (seriously – getting a grown woman a teddy bear is a little weird) and found roses confusing. Anyways, my birthday was a week later, so Valentine’s just seemed like a huge distraction from what actually mattered. Me. (Deafening roar of sarcastic sympathy from all the Christmas birthdays, I’m sure.)
But then I had kids, (those little bastards’ll sneak up on ya). And suddenly, I’m subject to the other side of mom-guilt. Which sucks way more than the guilt moms dish out, just so you know. Halloween, Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, and now mother-freaking Valentine’s Day have gone from perfectly reasonable drinking holidays, to me being the sole provider of myth and magic in a household with a husband completely devoid of any celebratory leanings. He’s at work right now trying to convince a horde of unbelieving husbands and wives that we honestly, truly, do not care about Valentine’s Day. They’ll put the fear of God into him at some point and he’ll come home looking baffled and holding chocolates. Societal pressure’s a bitch.
So now the kid is old enough to want things like “atmosphere” and she wants decorations. She wants a magical pink and red valentine’s house. Like the overachiever who runs daycare has. But that’s why I pay the overachiever. I’m outsourcing decorations. Apparently, that’s not enough anymore.
So I find some red construction paper, some sparkly stickers, and a pair of safety scissors. “Go to town!” I say. And she does. And everyone is happy. We run to the dollar store and buy a box of puny valentine’s for her friends. I pick up the organic fruit juice lollipops (joke’s on you, they’re still TERRIBLE for you) to tape to the card. Badaboom. Done. Everybody’s happy.
Then I go on Pinterest. Because…FML, I guess.
You gotta be shitting me. Are people DOING this stuff? People with KIDS? The best part is, they’re all labeled as easy. Easy Valentines for Kids.
Sure, they look easy enough, if you have time (and the inclination) to sort through a box of fruit candy, separating them out by flavor, and then printing and stapling and where do you even get the little cellophane bags? You know what’s easy? Going to the goddamn dollar store. While you’re there, you can stock up on all the magic you need for Easter, which is right around the corner and also chock full of too much candy and “easy” crafts.
This is what happens when hyper-competent women leave the work-force and stay home to raise kids. This is not that kind of job. There will be no bonus this year. You do not get overtime. There are no promotions. And the kids – the ones you’re making these treats for – the kids don’t care. The kids just want to eat the candy and feel like their friends love them. The only people who will notice the creative effort here, are other moms. Specifically, the mom who bought her kids’ valentines at Safeway while she was doing the week’s grocery shopping because she does not have time for this shit.
If it honestly brings you joy to make these then, by all means, knock yourself out. If this is the only outlet you have for that clawing creativity being suffocated by your familial responsibilities and lack of personal time, go to town. But for those of you who are just doing it because that perfectly coifed mom (who you secretly want to “accidentally” hip-check into a puddle) does it…just stop. Don’t fall for it. Don’t make this job more stressful than it needs to be, because studies show, it’s already one of the most stressful jobs you can have.
You are trying too hard.
Give your kid a hug and some shitty candy that tastes like chalk. There. You win. Mom of the year.
Have a happy Valentine’s day.