A Letter to My Kids on Valentine’s Day

Dear Son and Daughter,

It’s Valentine’s Day. As you get older you’ll notice a lot of people make a big deal about this day–flowers, chocolates, jewelry, loud declarations of love and such. That’s cool. But as your mom, I feel compelled to tell you something about Valentine’s Day that I hope you’ll remember: It’s kind of a crock.

I’m kidding. Mostly. Sure, I love those sweet gestures of love from your dad, and the romantic love between two people is beautiful. It really is. Someday you’ll feel it. You’ll see that person and your throat will catch and your heart will pause and you’ll never want to leave their side. Kinda awesome. But don’t get too caught up. That kind of love is just one tiny piece of what your big and beautiful heart is capable of. Here are others that I pray every day you don’t forget.

Your family. The love of family is made of loyalty and constancy and sometimes, the deep and guttural desire to slap your brother/sister/mom/dad/etc. across the face out of extreme annoyance but I am here to say PLEASE PLEASE don’t do that. Family is at the base of the pyramid when it comes to support. They hold you up from the root. People who know your essence are rare; these are them. Love and value them for their invaluable perspective on who you really are. And thank and hug them lots. Especially your mom. ?

Friends. “The family you choose.” Early ones will know you from your awkward braces and bangs days, they’ll laugh remembering your first crush and then Facebook-stalk said first crush with you. College friends know the slightly more mature version of you (but let’s be honest, only ever so slight) and mark that precious and painful time in your life when you were truly first on your own and struggled to find out what you were really made of. And those you meet after college are even more rare, and therefore special. Never, ever take for granted your “family you choose.” Friends are the bright stars in the sometimes dark sky of life.

Coworkers. Find a job you love and chances are you will find some pretty cool friends at work too. Chat in the break room, grab a lunch, enjoy their coolness. ‘Nuff said.

Yourself. Most important on this list by far. At some point or another, everyone on the list above will fail you–not because they want to, but because that’s how life works. Immediately after reminding yourself that this is perfectly fine and What Life Is All About, take a moment and a deep breath and remind yourself, you’re still here. And that’s all that matters. Keep talking. Keep crying. Keep loving. Keep moving–that’s the most important part. Just keep walking. You will find that all the advice and stories and love you’ve gotten from everyone else on this list will quietly crystallize within and as you gain speed and your stride gains strength, you will come to realize that it’s all inside of you–all that matters. All that you really need. Right there.

So be kind to yourself and forgive your mistakes. Treat yourself to something special. Take a walk on a sunny day with no music but the the thoughts in your own head.

Then on February 14, send yourself a Valentine. You deserve it.

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