I don’t know why I kept it – or why I continue to keep it (other than the fact that I’m a hoarder who could well feature in one of those programmes about people who can no longer get into their houses for old newspapers piled in the hall). I do know that it was a good decade or so after I got that one before I ever got another but in the back of my mind I always thought: “I must be ok because someone once liked me enough to buy me one”. I conveniently overlooked the fact that we were eight at the time.
They say that Valentine’s Day is now over commercialised and that’s why people don’t like it. While I agree, the main reason I don’t like it is because when I think about it, even now I am grown up and married, it makes me sad and a bit angry.
All of those (mainly teenage) years, when not getting a card helped to reinforce the negative things I thought about myself; I wasn’t pretty, I was too tall, I didn’t have the right clothes, I was too sarcastic, no one would ever love me and on and on. Of course, my insecurities were not the fault of Valentine’s Day – they were there all the time, it’s just on that particular day it was like being looked at through a giant magnifying glass.
Even when I was old enough to realise that my sense of worth had nothing to do with anyone else (and especially on whether or not someone bought me some cheap tat once a year) or the way I looked (or didn’t look), I have to admit that on that day I still felt lonely. I knew, when all around me people were having huge bouquets of flowers delivered to their desks, that every other day of the year their partners might be a complete waste of space but, for just a moment, I wanted that waste of space to be with me. I wanted to be the one to say: “Oh, I’m so embarrassed, I’m going to kill him when I get home” while being secretly thrilled that EVERYONE now knew that I was loved. And that makes me cross with myself.
I recently heard someone describe the day as “harmless fun” and dealt with in the right way maybe it can be? Now I have Freya, it is things like this I worry about. Obviously, I don’t want to push my own insecurities on to her but it seems like I’m not the only one who might not be enamoured with the day. As it seems like it is here to stay I’ve been wondering how can I teach her it’s not that important – even if she is sent the country’s entire supply red roses? That love isn’t about silly words on a card you later throw away (or even the one you keep for 30 years)? That she is beautiful inside and out and she doesn’t need to care about what anyone else thinks?
Well, so far, I have a three-pronged plan.
1. Widen the focus – Unless you are a part of a hetrosexual couple, Valentine’s seems anything but inclusive to me. This day could be used to celebrate all different kinds of love, including non- romantic love. It could be the day to celebrate the love of grandparents or the school crossing man or just a random act of kindness.
2. Spread the love – one of my other issues (who knew I had SO many?) is that it’s ridiculous to think that we should show love just one day a year. As I have mentioned before, I enjoy contemporary romantic fiction and I am a would-be writer of it, but they would be pretty short if romance only happened on one day. Maybe I can teach her that we can show and tell people we love them whenever we want (and it has nothing to do with consumerism)?
3. Self-worth – This is probably the biggest one. I’m a huge fan of A Mighty Girl “the world’s largest collection of books, toys, and movies for parents, teachers, and others dedicated to raising smart, confident, and courageous girls”. If I can give her the confidence to be her own person and be proud of herself then I think it will be half a battle won.
What do you think? Are you a fan of Valentine’s? Do you have any suggestions I can add to my list?