Valentine’s Day is approaching and while others may be excitedly shopping for the perfect gift for their loved one, it’s a festival that can throw any newly-separated or divorced person into a panic attack. The anxiety isn’t limited just to yourself but your children too. Certainly, when my kids were in elementary school, Valentine’s Day meant giving cards to every other child in the class and big class party. Sounds fun but your child may be feeling sensitive about his parents no longer being together.
So what does Valentine’s Day mean now you’re solo? Is it still relevant?
I say yes! Valentine’s Day is for families and even if your marriage is ending, you are still a family. Your family is rearranging and just looks a little different now. What I also love about Valentine’s Day is that it is so easy to show love for your family and friends without having to spend much money.
In fact, for me, it’s little acts of kindness that convey love. You can bake/buy a cake for Valentine’s Day and decorate it with a heart. I’ve never considered myself much of an artist but thankfully my kids appreciate the gesture and I know it’s genuine when they want to eat the cake for breakfast!
I’ve also been surprised that my kids don’t see the day as one simply for celebration with their friends. They make an effort to make the day special for me too. That’s much easier when it falls on a weekend but really, just about anything they do for me makes it a perfect day. Again, it’s those simple actions that speak to me.
If you just feel like ignoring the whole love celebration, it’s hard unless you can also avoid going to almost any store. You name it, grocery store, clothing store, craft store, book store … everyone wants to sell you something. If just reading this is making you tense don’t ignore that feeling. Sit with it. Why is the tension there? What is your body telling you? Is it something you’re afraid of? Is it a memory? Understanding where the tension is coming from will help you confront it and maybe even resolve the issue.
Maybe your tension is because you know your marriage is over but you haven’t had the conversation with your spouse. It sounds like the complete opposite of what Valentine’s Day is intended to symbolize, but people do break up on Valentine’s. April told me during our interview that she just couldn’t stand living the lie any longer. If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I see choosing to end a marriage that is not salvageable is an act of courage and an act of self-love.
I wouldn’t advocate pretending Valentine’s Day isn’t happening. I think it’s important for us to have festivals, it’s part of what marks the changing of the seasons and it’s a way of changing up the routine. And like any other celebratory occasion after divorce, you have the opportunity to create your own tradition, your own ideal way of celebrating the day.
I’m not sure what I’ll be doing this year to mark the day. My daughter is away in college now and I know I want her to have a care package arrive on that day so I’ll have to do some advanced planning for that … maybe some socks, maybe some pink chapstick, definitely some chocolate … Haven’t decided yet what to do for my son but true to his gender, the way to his heart always seem to be food-related and that makes it easy!
How are you planning on marking the Valentine’s Day?