As I’m sure most of you are aware, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Since 2006, I’ve been a single parent. And while I’ve written in my blog about my angst over never having someone (read a man) shower me with love and attention (and breakfast in bed) on Mother’s Day (you can read those posts here and here), for some reason I’m okay with the fact that whatever happens on Valentine’s Day is entirely up to me.
Maybe that’s because even when I was married, I “celebrated” Valentine’s Day in some unusual ways.
In 1997, my then sister-in-law Patty died unexpectedly on Valentine’s Day. Whatever my ex-husband and I had planned got canceled, and I spent the day packing and booking a red-eye to Philadelphia so we could help plan the funeral.
In 2000, I was deep into my first round of in vitro fertilization. I celebrated with not one but four hormone injections. The drugs turned me into someone resembling a crazy axe murderer. I’m fairly certain we did not leave the house, and this was a good thing.
In 2004, I spent Valentine’s Day at a rehab facility known as the Big Yellow House. I sat with my ex during visiting hours and watched the other guys give their wives and girlfriends balloons, flowers, candy, and cards while mine, who had been sober (once again) for exactly twelve days, wallowed in what I called the F-You Stage. Instead of balloons, flowers, candy, or even a card, I got cursed at. Our daughter was less than a month old, so I was just a teeny bit sleep-deprived. I listened to him rant for as long as I could. When a counselor commented that a fine-looking wife such as me would only tolerate that kind of treatment for so long, I snapped out of my stupor long enough to say, “Yeah, why am I tolerating this?”
I left the Big Yellow House five minutes later, and because my sister- and brother-in-law were babysitting Katie and not expecting me for another hour or two, I stopped by the mall and bought myself a gift. They were earrings—diamond earrings. Okay, the diamonds were small and at sixty percent off, not even expensive, but still, they were diamond earrings. While I was there, I picked out a gift for my upcoming 40th birthday. It had diamonds too.
For the next two years I continued the trend of selecting my own gift—although I stuck to more modest purchases. I was learning the art of self-love.
In 2007, I celebrated Valentine’s Day by filing for divorce. Admittedly, neither I nor the attorney realized this until the paralegal pointed it out later, and then all three of us had a good laugh. Given how I spent Valentine’s Day 2004, and most of the following two years, this truly felt like a gift. In hindsight it was a far more expensive gift than the diamond jewelry, but a necessary one. It was an act of self-love.
In 2008, as my divorce was dragging on, I hired a life coach to help me reconstruct my shattered life. This was another act of self-love.
Since then I’ve taken myself out to lunch on Valentine’s Day and gotten a massage. I’ve joined a yoga studio. I bought myself a pair of absolutely-to-die-for, sexy heels.
None of these things were “practical” for a single mother with an autistic child. But they were essential nonetheless. As the years progressed, these acts of self-love have gotten easier. They’ve begun to spread. I call them Random Acts of Self-Love. They happen organically, often without a lot of thought. But when they happen, I honor them.
As Valentine’s Day approaches this year, I’m debating what I want for a gift. But I can guarantee you it won’t involve balloons, flowers, candy, or a card.
What will you do on Valentine’s Day to show yourself some love?
Until next time,