Why you should have a mommy-daughter date this Valentine's Day

Feb 3, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. ET

Our culture puts a lot of emphasis on father-daughter dates on Valentine's Day, but a mom's quality time with her little girl is equally important.

Unfortunately, it's easy to overlook the significance of an intentional mom-daughter Valentine's Day date, since it's natural for moms and daughters to spend a lot of time talking and hanging out on a daily basis anyway. When I think back on my childhood, though, one of my fondest memories is that of my mom having a Valentine's Day tea party with me after school, where we read a Paddington Bear book and sipped on orange-flavored tea together. She gave me pink carnations and decorated the table with confetti. We ate heart-shaped cookies. A 30-minute date was all it took to make a lasting impression on my young mind, and teach me that my mom loved me and my blossoming womanhood.

My blossoming womanhood wasn't something that threatened or repulsed her. It was something to be celebrated, noticed and enjoyed — even though I would someday surpass her in height, and my beauty would grow as hers diminished with age.

We don't do that enough with our little girls. We dress them in cute outfits until they grow older and we perceive they're infringing on womanhood, at which point the quality time drops off and the relationship becomes fraught. Then it's up to daddies to make their daughters feel special, because the relationship with mommy has grown too complex and difficult to enjoy.

The memory I have with my mom is exactly why I plan to treat my daughter like a princess on Valentine's Day — and I don't mean that we'll dress up like Elsa and Anna, and wear tiaras in our hair. It means that I'll spend an intentional hour delighting her and delighting in her. I'll pick the activities she loves more than anything. I'll relish the beauty of the flowers she selects at the grocery store. We'll savor girly foods and mac 'n cheese. I'll help her put on her favorite dress, and she'll pick out a favorite dress for me to wear. We will delight in each other and the femininity we share, because it's damn important for her to see that our femininity is worth celebrating.

Valentine's Day isn't about waiting for a man — whether it's a father or a suitor — to celebrate that we are women and girls. We can celebrate it as women with laughter and joy.

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