I walked out of the store and turned toward my car, keys in my right hand, my left hand clutching three flimsy strings.
At the end of those strings were heart-shaped balloons in loving shades of pink and red. It was hard to be sure I was holding them tightly enough to keep them safe, though, because I was also juggling a bag full of kitschy Valentine’s Day stuff – a stuffed red gorilla, plastic heart glasses for the whole family – as well as a roll of wrapping paper that I would use to wrap up the new toy we’d bought for Ryan.
I went a little overboard for Valentine’s Day this year, decorating my house so that when Ryan woke up, he would find himself in the middle of a Wonderland of Love. Heart tinsel down the banister, heart balloons tied to each dining room chair.
I don’t know how many years he’ll be into this stuff. How many more years will I say, “Valentine’s Day is a day of….?” and he’ll respond with a breathy “loooooove!” Not many, right?
So, for as long as he cares, I’ll bring the magic. To teach him that life can be as special as you choose to make it. You can roll your eyes and call it a “Hallmark Holiday,” or you can use it as an excuse to spoil the people you love, to break up an otherwise dreary winter month with something bright and beautiful.
I stuffed the balloons into my trunk as fluffy white snowflakes floated down around me, coating the road, the windshield, my hair. I jumped into my car and began driving home, trying to beat the cold and the snow, picturing how I would set up all the decorations, picturing the look on Ryan’s face when he saw the balloons, the chocolates and the gifts.
Thinking, “It’s really enough stuff for two kids.” Fighting back tears.
Most days, I am able to hold it at an arm’s length. I consider the concept that we have a future child out in the world somewhere right now, experiencing things we can’t control, and I call the idea too abstract to analyze. I tell myself that yes, we will eventually adopt a child but it’s not yet determined who this person is, so they don’t really “exist” in our world.
But then I roll out of a store, arms full of holiday cheer and it’s clear that I’ve subconsciously purchased for two kids even though I’ve only got one at home. And then I think of how badly we want that second child to be with us, and then I wonder where that child is and whether or not anyone is thinking of him or her on Valentine’s Day, the way I would. The way I already am.
I want to be teaching my second child the same thing I’m teaching my first — that if we feel love, we should show love every day. But that it certainly doesn’t hurt to scream it from the rooftops once a year, just for the heck of it.
Is anyone screaming from the rooftops for you today, kiddo?
I hope so. I hope someone is showering you with love. But just in case they’re not, please know that we are, even if you can’t feel it quite yet.