My aching valentine heart.


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I’m sitting here on my couch, sipping the day’s first coffee.  Outside of my bay window, a few lazy snow flakes drift down like tiny angel feathers. Everything is covered in a soft, new snowfall. The trees look like they have been frosted for a party.

Its the first morning of my February vacation. Its very quiet.

I woke up on Valentine’s morning with an ache in my heart, and I wasn’t sure why.  As I moved around the kitchen getting ready for work, though, I knew why I was sad.

I missed the old Valentine breakfasts, when the kids were small. I missed the heart shaped pancakes and the heart shaped chocolate cake that would have been waiting to be frosted for dinner.  I missed the little cards with glued on sparkly decorations and those awful candy “message hearts”.  My empty nest was just too empty.

Sometimes in spite of my best efforts, the finality of the kids’ departures just hits me like an arrow in the heart. For some reason, this Valentine’s day I was acutely aware that I’ll never hold one of my babies again. Time has rushed on by, and those days are gone forever.

I got to school, and one of my little students came into the room.  He is a sweet, gentle, beautiful boy with sadness of his own this year, and he came in with a smile and a gift of potted daffodils.  A little pink and white heart, covered in lace and sparkles and extra glue, was stuck on the side. He had signed his name in purple marker.  I thanked him, gave him a big hug, and when he left I put my head on my desk and cried for a bit.

The day went on, and I was surrounded by kids, and laughing and snowpants and tissues.  I taught some math, checked for a fever, mediated a snowman conflict, read out loud and listened to some history presentations.  I cleaned up, corrected, sent emails, and washed out paintbrushes. I did what teachers do.

And now it is vacation, and Paul and I are straightening up and drinking our coffee and getting ready to go out for groceries.  It is vacation week.

I saw a saying the other day, although I don’t remember where.  I can’t even remember the words exactly, but the sentiment is something like this:

“Don’t be sad that it is over. Be happy that it happened in the first place.”

I’m trying.

12 thoughts on “My aching valentine heart.

  1. I’m really hoping that a part of your heart is filled with knowing what a difference you make — in your own kids’ lives (and hearts) and those of your students. Somehow I’m betting that yours will be the name that kids pull out when asked about the great teachers they had growing up.

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    • Oh, I don’t know…one of the great things about parenting and teaching (when they are done well) is that we make ourselves obsolete.
      I am happy with my life, and I do very much love my job. Its just, some days, I really want someone to call me Mommy and ask me “Pick me up!”

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  2. How lucky you are to have a classroom to go to! My first Valentine’s Day with no children at home. I sent cookies, and cards (with $$ in them) to both of them. Neither of them called, or did anything else. My daughter apologized the next day, “I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.” Still haven’t heard from my son. What a shock to the system. I became super-obsolete, super fast. Thank you for such a beautiful post today. I may go back to substitute teaching, because of you.

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    • Oh, my goodness, you must have been a wonderful mother! I truly believe that we have done our jobs well, as teachers and mothers, when we make ourselves obsolete. My kids didn’t acknowledge V day, either (at least to me!) and I refrained from sending them cards. But I plan to cook up a storm this week and go to visit my youngest with a month’s worth of treats! They may not need me, but I certainly still need them.
      And I love the idea of having inspired you to go back to substitute teaching! I can’t even begin to think about how I’ll fill my emotional needs when I retire…..Grandkids, I fervently hope!

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  3. I so love your honesty. Your share such emotions in your posts. The phrase , ‘better to have loved and lost comes to mind’ but with our kids maybe this stuff, the emotion, the loving, doesn’t go away – maybe this is the price of love and maybe as mums this is our destiny. I don’t mean that to sound negative, although when we cry, as we often do, it is. However, how wonderful is it to feel that love – are we not truly blessed. Hang in there my friend. Here’s to kids who sign their name in purple marker and lift out hearts.

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  4. Think of the women who really wanted to become moms and never had the opportunity. Think of the women who had a child and lost him to a bullet or a brain tumor. You have been blessed three times. I spent Valentine’s Day happy to think that while I am in California, my son was in Texas spending the day with his girlfriend and his puppy.

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    • I know!!! I do think those things: I have close friends who were never able to have children, and closer friends who have lost children. I do know those things; and I work hard to focus on them. I give thanks every single day of my life for my kids.
      But sometimes I just truly, deeply miss them. My Mommy days came hard for me, and then when I was finally a mother, I was pretty good at it.
      I just miss it.

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