Two lady friends came over last night for our weekly writing session where we plod away on various projects, Lesbian Family posts included. We take a few minutes to catch up before we focus on our screens and ignore each other together. Last night’s topic was, as you might have anticipated, Valentine’s Day. Only one of the three of us had any plans, though those plans were quiet in nature. The three of us are mothers and our celebratory efforts, we discovered with little surprise, were primarily on our children.
So that the conversation was not a complete wash, we talked about Valentine’s Days past; the sweets and trinkets and surprises we all gifted and received, and time stamping each memory as if we had to clarify, we appended each story with “before kids” as if it were a variation of the Fortune Cookie In Bed game. Those were the days, we lamented. We all had jobs and a bit more cash and time and freedom…before kids.
Gabriella is working late tonight. I may be asleep before she gets home. She’ll receive flowers at her office as a gesture that says, “I haven’t forgotten.” In previous years, I sent extravagant arrangements of exquisite flowers that dwarfed her desk and choked her coworkers with garden fresh scents of my abundant love. The other employees at Gabriella’s office would wither at the sight of Executive Lesbian Romance, comparing their flowers with hers as some people do with cars or private parts. Invariably one or more women admitted that they wished they were lesbians because clearly women know what women want. Gabriella never disagreed.
Today’s bouquet is modest but tasteful and the card is sweet enough. I doubt any straight woman will see it and pine for her imaginary lesbian lover who would have sent a luxurious lesbarrangement of her favorite flowers and color palette. Over time and with children, we have voluntarily opted to subscribe to an “it’s the thought that counts” approach to most holidays.
I try to kick it up a notch for the boys, however. I planted a balloon and a respectably sized stuffed animal in each one’s room. For the record, both boys went shopping with me to get Valentine’s Day cards for their classes and stalled at the plush toy section. I had warned them not to ask me for anything else before we went into the shop, and they did their best to muffle their whimpers.
At the bus stop this morning, other parents reminded me that I could have kicked it up a bit more. Festive, Valentine’s Day outfits and heart-shaped, chocolate chip pancakes with syrup for breakfast. “I’m the worst mother,” I admitted. “My kids got eggs, and they don’t even like eggs.” Some parents brought treats to the bus stop for each child and parent. I did not.
Our boys go to different schools. One is K-2nd grade and the other, 3 – 5th grade. They take different buses at different times. The older one leaves first, and because our stop is three houses away, the younger one waits at home. When Asher received a lollipop from one of the bus stop kids, he did not hesitate to ask if he could please have another one for his little brother. Asher is ruled by a sense of fairness that requires him to look out for Levi. That’s not to say that he doesn’t love his brother, but I knew that it was egalitarianism that drove a shy boy to ask for more. I pocketed both lollipops for him as he got on the bus and promised he could deliver Levi’s to him in person after school. At Levi’s stop, a girl with pink tights covered in purple hearts offered each child a chocolate. “Oh, thank YOU!” he squealed. He looked over at me and shot me a wink. And then, he approached her with his hand held out and said, “Can I please have another one for my brother Asher?” I couldn’t have been more proud and hopeful that they would always be each other’s valentine.
It’s easy to shrug off Valentine’s Day and hiss cynically about the consumerist machine that manipulates our nation, forcing us to spend money on a twisted and contrived holiday. You could argue that every day should be Valentine’s Day just as every day should be Mother’s Day or Father’s Day or Administrative Assistant Day or Penis Day because all of our loved ones, coworkers and parts should be celebrated throughout the year. I welcome these holidays, however, because we are simply not capable of honoring everyone and everything to a deserved degree each day of the year. I can’t begrudge the expression of love no matter what form it takes – within mutual and legal limits, of course. And I certainly can’t bah-humbug a day that encourages me to say out loud what I feel inside. What I feel inside is grateful for my community, my friends and my family, and what I want to say out loud is I love you, and I would gladly distributes a chocolate to each of you – as long as I had enough for everyone because that is what’s fair.
Happy Valentine’s Day!