I remember that as a kid I always really liked Valentine’s Day. Even though it felt like such a grownup holiday, so focused on something I was too young to really understand, there was something kind of magical about it.
Among the other holidays a kid was supposed to like, Halloween was too scary for me; plus it was too laborious getting all made up to look ridiculous and feel uncomfortably hot in those cheap costumes just to have my parents slink off with my night’s best scores, leaving me with the Necco Wafers and Tootsie Rolls — sweet, yes, but highly unsatisfying condolences.
Easter didn’t register much either. I never was an egg person. The Fourth of July was fun, but the oppressive East Coast heat dwarfed the firecrackers I was never allowed to stay up to watch anyway. Then came the winter holidays, which were too complicated, too wrapped up in boring religion, family time, travel and inexplicable stresses. Just give us the presents already!
That really only left me with Valentine’s Day.
Hearts. Pink flowers. Chocolate was all but guaranteed! What’s not to love? Even for an 8-year-old?
I remember I enjoyed exchanging Valentine’s Day cards and treats with all of my classmates, as if any of us loved anything about each other, except maybe the one among us who could get us out of a homework assignment or thwart a pop quiz.
Even as I piloted through the bumpy, lumpy and most-often grumpy teenage years, my boyfriend and I always enjoyed Valentine’s Day with a cloying giddiness, exchanging the standard gifts — flowers, sweets, and of course, those humiliating gratuitous hormone-infused PDAs.
Today, I’m a mom of a 2-year-old. In some ways, every day is Valentine’s Day around here. And Halloween for that matter (emphasis on goblins and monsters). My daughter often smiles for what seems like no reason, as she peers up to me saying, “I love yooooou, Mom!” Or she’ll run up and sneak a kiss on my cheek. It’s almost as good as a box of chocolates, most days. Then of course, there are the other days — the kind moms know it’s best we just don’t talk about. The OMG-a-monster-ate-my-child kind of day. Or as we’ve begun to call them in my house, “today.”
So is it really any surprise that there’s nothing further from my mind these days than S-E-X, especially the kind urged on by the creative people at Hallmark and Hershey’s? As if. I don’t need a made-up holiday to tell me how or when to feel the, ahem, urge. (Now, if someone made up “Long Hot Shower Day”…)
One ABC News poll found that more than 56 percent of people surveyed don’t expect to have sex on Valentine’s Day. I’d count myself among them. For all the fun Valentine’s Day brought me in years past, now it has never seemed more fabricated, more phony. It’s just something else I need to add to my calendar, to try to pencil in while my daughter naps or when she (eventually) falls asleep. As if the laundry, the dishes or prying Play-Doh out of my hair can really afford to wait.
But maybe being a mom is just my excuse. I wondered recently if I would feel this way if I didn’t have a child. Too many women feel like they “have to” have sex with their sig-Os on a regular basis — even right after the doctor gives the green light after those six longest-yet-shortest weeks after giving birth — never mind the sleepless nights, sore breasts and bat-shit hormones now that we’ve had a human extracted from the middle of our beings. But we suck it up and put out because sex is just part of the deal of being a woman, right?
Wrong. So, so wrong.
Perhaps there’s nothing inherently evil about a holiday reminding us in this busy world (kids at home or not) that love really does matter, love is worth celebrating, worth all its weight in chocolate and roses. Who’s going to argue with that? But isn’t it a little creepy to have it become expected that we’re going to spend money on sweets, Champagne or a fancy dinner as part of a made-up seduction ritual?
I’m a little bitter. I’m tired. And I can’t fathom the idea of forcing myself into this script. And while you won’t ever see me refusing a box of chocolates (E V E R), feeling like I have to give in to the phony forced intimacy of Valentine’s Day makes my stomach hurt. It makes my ovaries squirm. After all, it’s February. And even in Los Angeles, it’s cold as heck. I haven’t shaved my legs since August October. The last thing I’m willing to think about right now is how I’m going to pull off the ooh-la-la frazzled, hairy mom in lacy lingerie look. Maybe one of my daughter’s stuffed animals would look better in red lipstick and that negligée than me. Lord knows they’re probably much more willing to try. Just remember to bring them some chocolate, too, so I can steal it.
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