Eat. Your. Heart. Out.

You. You with the flowers, and/or jewelry, and/or chocolates…I just want to let you know that you may have had a remarkable day but my Valentine’s Day was better.

This morning I woke up, still sick, and needing to call-in to work for a second day in a row. My work load cannot withstand two whole days of doing nothing so I got up, took the little girls out for a Valentine’s Day breakfast, and came home to get some work done. After a couple hours, my productivity started to wane, and my mind drifted to Valentine’s Day. I realized that in 35 years I can’t really remember what I’ve done on any of my Valentine’s Days. How is that even possible?! I strained to remember something, anything, and this is all I could come up with…

Valentine’s Day – Circa 1991
In eighth grade I had my first real Valentine’s Day with a boy. We’d been “dating” for about three days prior to Valentine’s Day so I was expecting something big. I wore a pleated/puffy/acid-washed jean skirt, a pink t-shirt with shoulder pads, my bangs were curled into a perfect ball atop my forehead and doused in enough hairspray to survive a hurricane, and I wore powder blue eye shadow and frosty pink lipstick. It was going to be perfect!

When I got to my first hour class and saw my “boyfriend,” he gave me a bead bracelet that had purple and pink beads surrounding white beads that spelled out my name. It was magical…for about five minutes…until the bracelet broke and the beads scattered across the floor of the classroom. We broke up three days later.

Valentine’s Day – Present Day
Last night we got our little girls back after being without them for the weekend. My oldest little girl’s first words upon entering the house were “Momma, who is YOUR Valentine?” I was sick, so I wasn’t on top of my game in terms of wit or humor, so I responded “Daddy.” I normally would have come up with something much more fun.

Oldest Little Girl: Who ELSE?
Me: You.
OLG: Who ELSE?
Me: Littlest Little Girl
OLG: Who ELSE?
Me: My Mom, Dad, and Brother
OLG: Who ELSE?
Me: Ummm…
OLG: A Valentine is anyone you APPRECIATE.
Me: Well! Then the list is long.
OLG: I know, RIGHT?! (her favorite thing to say in response to just about anything right now)

It seemed so profound. As I drifted to sleep last night I thought I should write a post today to those who I truly appreciate with all of my heart.

Fast forward to my mind drifting and losing all productivity. When it became clear that staring at my work inbox wouldn’t actually produce any emails with offers of millions of dollars for my organization, I began to wander around our house, and took note of the following:

  • Four loads of laundry need to be folded.
  • Two loads of laundry need to be washed and dried.
  • Dry cleaning needs to be dropped off.
  • A single little girl’s softball cleat sits on top of my book pile on my nightstand (Well of course it does! Where else will it be safe from the teeth of the puppy? Nevermind the fact that we have no idea where the OTHER cleat is…rendering this one entirely worthless.)
  • An end table in our living room balances on three legs because apparently, at some point (???), one of the legs broke off. What?!
  • A formerly lovely bathroom rug now sits in the puppy’s toy basket and has no stitching around the edges.
  • A bathroom sits without a lovely rug.
  • One of three framed pictures that hang in our kitchen is missing.
  • There is a pretty significant stash of fruit snacks, hair binders, and popcorn underneath our living room couch.
  • There are hangers hanging on almost every door knob.
  • There are jackets, and sweatshirts, and coats, hanging over the side of anything that has a side.

Ugh. I started to clean, straighten, move furniture back into place, remove the things sitting on the precarious three-legged end table, and the puppy took it upon himself to remove the cleat from my pile of books. I hit a wall quick, I am still sick after all, and quit. Grabbed the little girls’ Valentine’s gift bags, grabbed my husband’s gift, grabbed his card, and in the five minutes I had before running to pick the little girls up from the bus I opened his card that I’d yet to sign.

And it hit me. While last year’s Valentine’s Day may have brought Tiffany boxes, and the year before brought new clothes, and I knew this year would bring…well…a new end table for the living room, it is still the best damn Valentine’s Day EVER. Because THIS year there is no concern for the health of my marriage, and the only job stress either of us are facing are simply the normal stresses of a job, and the little girls are healthy and so happy and such lovely people, and by God I’m doing something I love and it is amazing!

I picked the little girls up, who were either on a sugar high, or just having a very good day, or both, and we ran to meet my husband for dinner at a really fancy restaurant, at a semi-fancy restaurant, at a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant with character, at Buffalo Wild Wings. We’re nothing if not classy. The little girls opened their gifts of pencils, lip smacker, and slippers with utter glee. My husband and I opened our cards and, to our surprise, we found that we’d written each other nearly the exact same message. We then worked through homework over wings, cheesy fries, and Diet Coke (no we do not let the little girls drink the junk). And it was…ridiculously lovely and peaceful…well, as peaceful as you can get with 97 big screen TVs and birthday announcements every four seconds.

After dinner we got ice cream, rushed home, and got through the rest of homework, reading, showers, and bedtime. The little girls wanted lots of extra kisses tonight which I’m chalking up to either Valentine’s Day or their appreciation for their evening. And I told them each what I tell them every night, which was inspired by the book “The Help,” “you’re a smart girl, you’re a beautiful girl, you’re a kind girl, and you’re an important girl, and I love you very much.”

I’ve been sick, and blue, and irritable all weekend. And while today included still being sick and seeing the current state of my house (truly horrible), it also included the kind of peace you only get when you’re surrounded by love, and the realization that this…

This. Right. Here.

Is exactly where you’re supposed to be. And it’s perfect.

TODAY: What if Valentine’s Day is just a day to truly appreciate what you have (just the way it is) and those you have in your life (just the way they are)?

PS to my Husband – For the record this does not, under any circumstances, mean the Tiffany boxes should stop coming altogether. Love you!!!


3 thoughts on “Eat. Your. Heart. Out.

  1. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    You two/four are so great together. I am honored to count you among my friends/family, and I am glad you all had a great Valentine’s day. 🙂

    T

  2. I love the new job but it means that I am so busy that I don’t get to read this amazing blog nearly as much as I would like. Happy Valentines to you and your beautiful family! You’re an amazing Mom Carrie!!!

  3. AMAZING post! I’m just catching up because I was traveling for a couple of weeks, but I love reading your posts so much that I’ve made sure to go back and read each one! This one warmed my heart and brought tears to my eyes – The Help reference was just too much for me to handle 🙂 . The kind of life/happiness you talk about is so candid and so beautiful that anyone would hope to have that same kind of happiness for themselves.

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