Valentine’s Day has never been my favorite holiday. As someone who has been accused of being overly-empathetic, it’s a day that has always caused me to worry about others. I have always felt like it was a day that made people feel bad. Or, feel good about themselves for the wrong reasons. For people who aren’t in relationships, it can create feelings of isolation or longing. Maybe worse, for those who are in relationships, it can cause us to base our worth on someone else’s valuation of us.
As a teacher, I decided to make it my responsibility to ensure that my kiddos always knew they were loved on Valentine’s Day, but most importantly that they were prompted to focus on the things that they love about themselves. We did things like celebrate personal goals and write/talk about how it made them feel to achieve a goal. We discussed the importance of compliments and practiced giving them to each other and to ourselves.
What, you say?! You don’t wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and tell yourself something you love about yourself? You should! We spend far too much time thinking about, talking about, and worrying about all the ways we fall short in this life. On a day dedicated to love, let’s take some time to show a little to ourselves! After all, I am a firm believer that we have to consistently model the behaviors we want to see in our children. And I want Lincoln to know, without needing affirmation from any worldly presence, that he is loved and is worthy of love.
All that said, there is one thing about Valentine’s Day that I look forward to every year. HEART SHAPED WAFFLES! My incredible momma made these waffles for me every single year on Valentine’s Day for as long as I can remember. When I was in elementary school, she even brought the waffle maker to school and made them for my whole class – every year! During my years as a teacher, I made them for my students and told them about how my mom made them for me as a child and for my classmates when I was in school. This is one tradition that hasn’t lost momentum, and I hope never will. Want to know the most amazing part about all this? These decades of heart-shaped waffles have come from the same old Black and Decker waffle maker. It has never failed us, never slowed down, and never ceases to create a perfectly crisp heart-shaped waffle.
So this morning, I woke up and went straight to work making waffles for Lincoln and his daddy. Mitchell admittedly is not a huge fan of waffles, but on this day each year he pretends to love them. And that is why he is my Valentine, folks!
While juggling the job of mixing the batter, slicing the fruit, and setting the table, I couldn’t help but think about the many times over the years that my mom woke up early to do the same exact thing for me and my brother. I wondered if, like my house, hers was a mess and she had other things to do besides put together a time-consuming breakfast. And I wondered how much sleep she had the night before, and if her sink was also (like mine) piled high with dirty dishes. And I wondered, how often did we forget to thank her, after all of that? Probably frequently.
Momma, thank you. Thank you for always encouraging me to love myself, regardless of my countless shortcomings. Thank you for putting yourself on the back-burner for so many years (and still to this day) so that you could do more for us. Thank you for teaching me to let go of things that don’t matter; the dishes, the laundry, and the chaos of parenting, and instead to cherish the small moments, like watching my boy marvel at the shape of his special Valentine’s breakfast. And momma… THANK YOU for the waffles.