Yes - it's Valentine's Day.
Never have I been a believer in holidays that are marked with consumerism. Holidays from which corporate entities may profit from our need to buy into the mentality of ‘spending’ as a way of demonstrating our thoughts..our feelings.
So often I find myself the cynic…the nay-sayer..the dis-believer..when all I really want is to believe. Always needing to explore …to question…to pull things apart and look at them from the inside and then the out. Impossible to simply accept it for what it is. A holiday. A hallmark one. A one that is about nothing other than expressing one’s love.
My first – in kindergarten. A boy with whom I walked to and from school with. We often stopped and picked flowers out of other people’s gardens. Young. Innocent.
My second – in elementary school. Another young lad who shared after-school ice cream at the corner malt shop. Sweet.
My third – in those days of pre and early adolescence. A ski buddy. A boy without whom skiing would never have been the same. We were inseparable. Attached at the hip. Best of boy/girl friends.
And then followed those emotionally charged…hormone-infested…roller-coaster years of adolescence. A time when it all seemed to take on such weight and enormous measure. ‘Love’ and its pursuit - became my greatest fantasy and dream..as well as my most dreaded nightmare. Turbulent.. exuberant..joyous..hot and heavy..sweet and light. .. and sadly and always ending in heartbreak. Mine or his.
The love that – perhaps – surprised me the most was ‘mother-love’. The fierce..passionate….undying love I had for my babies. From the moment of each of their births – I felt it as something different than anything I’d ever known before. A love that was and is to this day - unconditional. A love that carries with it all of life’s greatest lessons. A love that questions and stretches and pushes and pulls me in every direction imaginable….but a one that endures and never ends. A powerful love. A one that puts their lives – always - ahead of mine.
The man to whom I’m married. Over twenty-eight years of time-tested love. Often taken for granted and sometimes unnoticed..but ever-present and strong. Another which has sustained the trials of life - the ups and downs..the gains and losses…the busy years of raising babies…the tumultuous ones of herding adolescents. And now – a quieter…more comfortable..settled kind of love. Like the oldest and softest of favorite worn shoes.
What is love?
Little red hearts don’t define it. Chocolates can’t possibly sweeten it. Roses are nothing other than an ornamentation of it.
What I most struggle with is this concept of self-‘love’. Of this looking and really seeing myself each day for exactly who I am..accepting and embracing. The bad. The good. The ugly. Of speaking to myself in a way and tone in which I might converse with a friend. Softly. Gently. Kindly. Supporting. Encouraging. In comparison – all other ’loves’ come easy. I have known to be my very own worst enemy….and I’d like to think and imagine and hope that someday I might learn to be my bestest of best friends. My own greatest love. Not a love for self that outshines all others..but a one that might be offered up and shared. A reflective and complimentary kind of love.
Yes- its Valentine’s Day.
A day that is marked with little red hearts and roses..and hallmark words that are nothing other than sugar-coated candy to the heart and soul.
To my mother – elegant roses.
To my children – sweet chocolate and kisses.
To my husband – romance and a dinner that is candle-lit.
And to myself – a little..and just for this one day – some kind words..and a fistful of heartfelt ‘love’.