my favorite pair of Sevens, generously fastened together with a rubberband underneath the small swell of my belly; a light pink cashmere sweater with a white tank underneath; and a scarf around my neck decorated with small conversation hearts.
....thus it is probably this memory for minutia and irrelevant, unimportant detail that somehow perpetuates the weight that is so heavy on my heart each year. Valentine's Day is forever married to the visceral, clenched-gut memory of losing our baby near Valentine's day. The pink and red hearts, flowers, banners, and stuffed teddy bears that infest every commercial nook and cranny of our society stops me short every year. And yet, as the years pass, it is somewhat of an embarrassment to me, to still grieve deeply (albeit briefly). But if I'm grateful to my body for its muscle memory after I've slacked off at the gym, I must be equally kind to my body memory when it remembers the utter devastation I felt so many years ago.
Some years are better than others; last year, I made chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate dipped pretzels, and homemade truffles. I distributed them to everyone I loved, and I felt happy. This year, all I managed was to buy some festive paper plates and napkins, throw some heart confetti on the table, generously sprinkle their PB & J's with pink and white jimmies, and call it good.
It's especially hard to hate Valentine's Day so much when everyone on Facebook tells you they're having a wonderful Valentine's Day.
And they have the flowers and photos to prove it.
It is a small triumph of my heart, therefore, to rejoice in the happiness we all felt on February 15, when we celebrated Valentine's Day as a family.
My parents and I teamed up on the gift we gave to the kids: a family date night. They provided the funds for ice skating at the local skate park; afterward, we took the kids out to dinner. It was wonderful. I picked up Aidan and Leo early from school so that we could be at the rink as soon as open skate session started. Jeff met us there shortly thereafter (conveniently missing the whole wrestle-small-children-into-tight-skates-while-listening-to-them-ask-impatiently-if-I-was-done-yet-could-I-zip-their-coat-put-on-that-glove-mommy-I-have-to-go-potty routine....) and my kiddos took to the ice like Scott Hamilton (Pax = determination), Anton Ohno (speed = Aidan), and Brian Boitano (general coordination = Leo). We skated so many laps around the ice, rockin' out to the late 1990's music and enjoying the relative calm and quiet of the rink. True to personality, Aidan refused to listen to any of our suggestions on how to skate better, yet still managed to find his own unique methods of skating (lots of toepick running, followed by long glides). After Leo grew accustomed to the feel of the ice and his skates, (having taken a few lessons last year) he was equally content to skate as he was to stand and watch the lovely, talented, (mostly female) skaters practicing in the middle of the rink. And Pax was, by far, the happiest skater on the ice, holding firmly to stacked buckets for balance yet making his way around the ice with impressive 3 year old coordination and skill. He grinned and laughed, and I was reminded that although it's tough to be the baby of the family, there is something uniquely special and wonderful about always included in what the big kids are doing.
Leaving the rink, we stopped to listen to a great little jazz-ish ensemble of tuba, snare drum (?) trumpet, saxophone, and trombone. Pax recognized a friend from his music class, and was so excited to go say hello - until we were actually standing in front of her, which made us all laugh. We headed to dinner at our favorite pizza and beer joint, where we huddled around the tiny table playing tic-tac-toe, drinking Rogue Chocolate Stout and lemonade. Our food was superb, and we left filled-to-overflowing with happiness, joy, love, and gratitude for each other: for the fun we shared; for finding such mutual delight in skating and dinner; for the contentment and satisfaction we saw reflected in each other's eyes and smiles.
Oh and of course you wonder what I wore for my date.... my favorite wide-legged Sevens; a slim blue-and-gray striped sweater; and a cozy gray cloth necklace/scarf I crafted myself from something I saw on Pinterest.
Dear Cupid, you can keep your chocolates and your roses. I've got far more important dates to celebrate - over chocolate stout and rose-colored cheeks - with boys far cuter than you will ever be.