From the Heart

valentine-1Our little family has been through a few major holidays now, but for some reason Valentine’s Day struck me differently. We’re a family. A family of three. And I am the Mom! I’m the front line; it’s up to me to make these moments Pinterest worthy. So, what did I do? I did what any new Mom would do. I panicked and ran out to Target, with plenty of good company as it turned out. As I wandered around trying to conjure up some lovey ideas, I found myself feeling lost and unwittingly cringing at the card aisle. To say it was bustling would be an understatement. People with armloads of candy, toys, stuffed animals, and heart-adorned attire were hovering, trying to find something with just the right words. Being judgy had no place on my to-do list, so I quickly asked myself why I felt critical. What’s so wrong with embracing Valentine’s Day and treating your loved ones to some extra delights? Nothing. But I realized, for me, honoring and celebrating the love in our family meant creating a few cozy, heartfelt traditions that our daughter will always remember.

After reading an inspiring article from Aha! Parenting, our first family Valentine’s Day took shape. It began with homemade Valentines for each of us—construction paper, scalloped scissors, fancy doilies, and our own words from the heart. We’ll save these Valentines and decorate our home with them each year.

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I got up early to make our favorite whole wheat banana pancakes for breakfast, complete with strawberries and a few festive M&Ms. The homemade Valentines welcomed us to our seats. We savored the leisurely meal, snuck a few extra M&Ms, and dined over a love-themed Spotify playlist—with everything from Lady Gaga to Huey Lewis and the News.

We spread some extra love in the world by donating non-perishables to a food pantry with the help of some other local families. In the future, my heart is set on finding a way to give back to those affected by mental illness over the holidays.

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And finally, my husband gave me the best Valentine’s day gift of all: the gift of time for a solo, midday run…such a precious commodity in this mom’s world!

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When I trotted back through our front door, I was greeted by the four pictures in our hallway and realized they tell quite the love story. In the first one, my husband is holding me at the exact spot we became a couple 19 years ago—at a high school indoor track meet. (Running truly is a common thread in the most important moments in my life!) In the second, we’re plopped down together in a snow drift outside the first home we bought. The third picture is a close up of our daughter, her eyes twinkling with joy as she plays laying down on a blanket. The final picture was taken at Christmas, with the three of us huddled in front of our glowing tree. It’s far from perfection—one sock is missing, one hand is waving in a blur, and we’re over-smiling because it was the hundredth attempt to get one decent family photo. But that’s exactly what I love about it. It’s the real us.

Love brought us together.
Love gave me a reason to fight through my illness.
Love conquered fear about having a family.
Love anchors us through trials—momentous and trivial.

My heart is full.