I have nothing against love and romance. But when Valentine’s Day rolls around, the artificiality, the pressure to CELEBRATE OUR LOVE ON THIS DAY IN THIS WAY WITH HEART-SHAPED EVERYTHING BECAUSE HALLMARK SAYS SO makes my eyes roll right out of my damn head every single year.
I think about people who don’t have love in their lives, who are struggling in some way, and how they just got through the December holidays and now this? Now it’s hearts and cupids and jewelry commercials 24/7?
Trust me, I’m not usually this much of an ogre but the concept of Valentine’s Day – at least as it’s known commercially – is not my favourite thing. Yes, it’s a nice idea, and if we need a reason to appreciate those we love and carve out a little time together, then February 14 is as good a time as any. Nothing bad can come from taking a day to think loving thoughts and dial up the loving action.
But the older I get, the more I look for ways to fulfill myself in addition to my partner. In my twenties and thirties, it was all about “what am I going to do for him on Valentine’s Day?” Now, to keep the mom/wife train on the tracks, I am unapologetic about prioritizing my own needs. Not at the exclusion of everyone else but in addition to.
So Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse (like I needed one) to celebrate and take care of myself. Here’s how I plan to do it.
How do I love me? Let me count the ways…
1. Take out food. I don’t mind cooking but since this night is all about me, and because some of my favourite foods are ones no one else in my family will eat, this is the night I won’t feel guilty about gorging on Spicy Shrimp Vindaloo and Naan.
2. A nice bottle of wine. You know, the one you pick up and think “It’s too much. I can’t.” Well, tonight I can and I will.
3. Bubble bath with candles. This is a regular occurrence for me but the house being empty means no one will barge in to go for a poop or tattle on her sister. And I need somewhere to drink that wine, right?
4. Writing Valentines. Every day in February my husband and I post little love notes around the house for our daughters. Tonight I’ll write one for myself too: “Dear Jen. You’re a Rock Star. Your kids are happy, your marriage is solid, your parents are healthy and your job is going well. Your house is sorta clean and all the pets were fed tonight. Take a deep breath and remember to love yourself (and shave your pits).” Or something like that.
5. Netflix or a good book. Every night it’s a toss-up over what to do with the 30 minutes I have to relax in bed before I fall asleep and start drooling. Either way, book or binge-watching, the night will end with me pretending to be asleep when everyone gets home.
So that’s my list. You can fill yours – on Valentine’s Day or any other day – with whatever makes you happy. The key isn’t what you do, but how you do it. Lose the guilt over not dedicating the day and the sentiment entirely to others (as popular theory thinks we should), and approach it with an abundance of self-love and self-acceptance.
Self-love, like beauty, comes mainly from within. If you need a little help with this, I often return to books like The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein or You’re A Bad Ass by Jen Sincero to remind me of the power of positive thinking and of all the things I’m capable of.
I truly believe that to love others fully and properly you have to love yourself first. It took me a long time to learn and understand this but now I’m a believer. And what better time than Valentine’s Day to celebrate YOU and making loving YOU something that happens all the time, not just on February 14.