Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Transformation of Valentine's Day

Of course having children changes every little aspect of your life. A parent expects nights to become sleepless and dining out to become a rarity.  We accept that we no longer control the car radio and that a night at the cinema includes animated characters and uncomfortable 3D glasses. However, the loss of special days is unexpected.  A new parent is seldom prepared to hand over all celebrations and holidays to the children, yet it is inevitable.

The transformation is a slow process.  For the first few years in existence, a box and a piece of tape is enough to spark excitement and joy in a toddler.  Holidays aren't even necessary- a one-and-a-half year old receives as much joy from discovering how to pick his nose as he might on Christmas morning. No, it is not until they grow older and begin to observe the world marketable around them do they realize the importance of such celebratory days.

It starts with birthdays. Modern parenthood has made the celebration of the day one was born into a carnival-like experience, complete with petting zoos, bouncy houses, and face painting.  Long gone are the days where a child has a few friends over for some cake and ice cream.  So, it is no surprise that children learn early that birthdays are special.  And, not just their birthdays, they want your birthday to be special too. Without fail, on my special day, I am awakened from my slumber by the children bouncing on my bed asking me what kids of cake we can make that afternoon. 

Once they have fully learned to appreciate the birthday of every member in the house, the children then develop a taste for the other holidays: Christmas/Hanukkah, Easter/Passover, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and finally Valentine's Day.

Although traditionally a holiday celebrating lovers, when the kids enter school age Valentine's Day also becomes all about them (and the candy and goodies).  There will be cards between friends at recess, class parties, and the obligatory token of love from the parents.  As for me, I get to yell at my kids to finish writing cards for each child in the class, even the kids they don't like.

To make matters worse, this year my husband is away on a business trip. So, for me the day will be only about my children.  Instead of sipping a glass of champagne in a romantic restaurant with the man I pledged my undying love and devotion, tonight you can find me making heart-shaped pizzas and listening to the Annie soundtrack, on repeat. Hell, maybe I will pop open a bottle of bubbly.


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