Today, I bought some boxes of little Valentine cards for Marcus to use at school and for Owen and Eli to use around the neighborhood, and tonight I spent some time talking about junior high school with a friend of mine. Those two things left me remembering how much I especially disliked Valentine's Day during 7th, 8th, and 9th grades.
I can remember in junior
high the student council sold Valentines like cookies or flowers that you could
buy and have delivered to the person's class. I think they were called Valograms or something like that. It felt (because it was--remember, this is junior high) like a
big popularity contest where the really beautiful girls and tall
athletic guys were walking around with arms full of Valentines while the rest of us felt small and lame. The
student council would come to class and then read off the names of
people they had Valentines for and the people whose names weren't read would just sink lower in their chairs. But get this! My name was always called,
though not because I was popular or anything close to that--it was
because my mom always came to the school and bought a Valentine for me. I
think that was actually worse than getting no Valentine because they'd
call my name and I'd walk up to get my giant cookie or my lovely flowers
and people would ooh and ahhh and ask, "Katie, who's that from?
Somebody likes you," and I would feel so embarrassed though not for the
reasons they were probably thinking. I just didn't want to say, "It's
from my mom," because in junior high there are very few things (read: nothing) more embarrassing
than getting a Valentine from your mom. Except maybe getting a Valentine from your mom delivered to you in front of all your peers.
Now that I'm older (and wiser!) and a mother, I can look back on this story through a different lens. I can see my mom thoughtfully wanting to give her daughter a special Valentine so that she wouldn't feel left out. I can see her going to the school and pondering over which Valogram (cookie? flowers?) to deliver and what message to write to her awkward teenager.
I can see now what I couldn't really see then because I was so uncomfortable in my skin and so worried about what others thought of me.
I can see love.