Writing this week has proven to be difficult. There is so much going on, and yet nothing. I feel like I’m ensnared on a treadmill. I am expending vast quantities of energy, but I am not getting anywhere. Circumstances are holding me in place. My endurance is being tested, but I don’t have anything but tear stained cheeks to show for it.
Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. A day that hasn’t held much importance to me since high school. And even then, it was more about the fact that my mom would make brownies for breakfast. It was a fun, silly “holiday”. A detail that still holds true- which is nice, considering my current relationship status. This day doesn’t bring excitement or butterflies, but it also doesn’t deliver additional heartbreak or loss. It is just another day in the uphill battle of disassembling a life that was built on a faltered foundation. An infrastructure of deceit. A deception carried out with such charisma and talent, I was ignorant until the gauntlet was released. Now I live in the aftermath- trying to piece the rubble back together into a new foundation. Bedrock that looks different, but will no longer bear structural uncertainty once we get to the other side.
This Valentine’s day, I didn’t have a suitor, but a boy does have my heart. He is just shy of three feet tall and possess the most charming smile framed by wild curls. He captures my affection in new ways every day. His presence alone fills me with a contentment and purpose that I could never have dreamed of. He is a part of me- an indelible piece of my soul. He is the most important valentine I have ever had. He is my most cherished responsibility.
Yesterday morning I dressed him in a heart sweatshirt- the coordinating cloth to the one that adorned my body. I dressed him amid sleepy protests. Do not be deceived- his drowsy objections are not like mine, muffled and irritable. They are loud- filled with as much emotion as his little body can conjure- and punctuated with hand gestures and tears. I cupped my hands around his tiny, angry face and wiped away his tears. I fed him breakfast and loaded him into the car. We sang; I spoke to him to lift his spirits. And with the mask of a smile, I dropped him off at daycare. He had a day filled with crafts and a little party with his comrades. That is the entirety of the day I spent with my tiny valentine. For yesterday- as every Wednesday- was his night with his father. A routine that I will continue to preserve, though it devastates me weekly. His time with his father is immensely important. It’s imperative that he never have to chose between his parents-that I foster an environment void of tension or judgement, where he can bask in the love of both of us. He must never know of the soul crushing heartbreak I experience because of the sacrifice. The tears I shed when I am not with him. The future experiences I mourn, because I will not share them with him. A circumstance I didn’t choose. Honestly, a situation I would never have chosen. I would walk through fire before choosing any situation which would keep me from my child, if even for a moment. But now that this has been thrust upon me, I have to do what is best for my son. Which at times, contradicts what I want for myself.
It is my mantra, to keep busy when I don’t have Moose at my side. Distract my heart from its longing. Yesterday was no different. I made plans with a member of my support system. A silly movie at a classic theater. Pizza and laughter-a little bit of sadness and venting- in the parking lot. Missing my valentine ever present in the back of my head. A state of being I have become accustomed to. A facet of my reality that will not change.
So, in the spirit of this day, punctuated by red hearts, candy, and declarations of love- here is mine:
To my Moose,
This is your second Valentine’s day on this earth. The second year I have cradled your body against mine to ease your tears. The second year that I have carefully threaded your arms through a clean shirt, dressing you for the day ahead. In reality, today is no different than any other day since you entered my world and turned it on it’s head. Today I don’t love you more than the last, because it isn’t possible. My heart grew a new capacity to love when I saw you for the first time on a black and white monitor, my belly exposed and covered in cold jelly. My courage and fire set ablaze the first time I needed to protect your delicate spirit. You have made me a mother, changing the fabric of my being. You have altered my existence. You have made my life better, just by being a part of it.
This year you are my tiny valentine, though you will not always want to be. You will grow older and your heart will belong to someone else. You will begin to put their needs in front of yours. You will delight in the silly traditions that make them smile. But until then, I will cherish every hug, every time you grab my hand to pull me into your adventure, every laugh. You will forever be my valentine, even if my time as yours is finite.
On this day of silly cards and delicious candy, remember to find the simple joys in life. This ‘holiday’ is made up. It doesn’t have a profound meaning or traditions rooted in history. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. That doesn’t mean that you cannot use it as an excuse to profess a crush or forget the daily stresses- setting them aside to enjoy a festive meal with friends. You don’t need an excuse to smile. And you will never need an excuse to be my valentine. If there is no other constant in your life, know that my love will never fade. My exhilaration at your presence impossible to diminish. You are my favorite person and I am honored to be your first valentine.
My cup runneth over,