Wandering the aisles of Michaels on a Friday night, I pick up a pink and red box of pre-made Valentine’s Day cards and ask my youngest child, “How about these ones?”
She shrugs her shoulders and skips off. I grab three more boxes of the overpriced items and apathetically toss them into my shopping bag. Tallying these, plus other assortments of cards and crafts for the classmates of my other two children, I’ve spent $40 - completely begrudgingly.
I can remember a time before kids when Valentine’s Day was all about the element of surprise - romance, and quality time with my partner. Perhaps some flowers and a nice dinner for two.
Now, with kids, it’s not about me or my spouse at all. Instead, Valentine’s Day is about helping my kids pen cards for their peers. It involves coming up with something crafty to accompany the cards, and preparing a tasty treat for the classroom party. And it always seems to happen at the last minute.
On the actual day - if I even remember - I help my kids dress in pink and red outfits, and ship them off to school with their arms full of goodies. And when they return home, they have bags stuffed with carefully-crafted cards that are much better than the ones we’ve made, and I feel inadequate as a parent as I toss them in the recycling bin.
Then, as they chomp on their stale dollar-store suckers, I realize that I’ve forgotten to do anything for my husband at all. Before he gets home from work, I rush out to the grocery store and buy one of the last Valentine’s Day cards on the shelf - something with a punny message like “Yoda best” or “You’re one in a melon”. I scribble a note in the card and place it on the chocolate bar I’ve grabbed at the checkout counter (because he also needs a gift!) before I buckle my seatbelt in the car, and rush home.
If we have time, we may opt for a family dinner out. A meal at one of the family-friendly trio of restaurants that are packed with other families just like ours. Then, we head home and watch an animated movie, before hurrying the kids off to bed, catching up on work, and then dozing off on the couch - because all the work to make Valentine’s Day special for the kids has totally worn us out.
Valentine’s Day for many parents is no longer about romance and showing your partner how much you love them. Instead, it’s about making the day extra special for your kids - and that’s OK, too.
Bianca Bujan is a mom of three, Editor of WestCoast Families magazine, and a freelance writer who shares about travel, family, and food in various major print and online publications. Find her on Twitter @biancabujan and Instagram @bitsofbee.