Friday, February 14, 2014


Chloe, my 8 yr old, putting her (pink) shoes on this morning.
 This morning is Valentine's. I LOVE Valentine's. I love all the pink and red and little cards exchanged at school. I especially love the traditions I've established around this holiday with my family. But some of those traditions are changing, and just like the dark chocolate truffles I am sure to get today, it is bittersweet. 

I have three daughters and years ago, when my oldest was in 1st grade, I braided her hair into a heart. She was thrilled and practically floated into school, basking all day in the attention as people noticed her heart coiffed hair. And thus a tradition was born. I braced myself for Valentine's morning. Getting three little heads braided into a heart before school and preschool was, well, lets say we have a reliable record of tardies on Valentine's day. Can you imagine my relief at the ultrasound of my fourth child- a boy! Thank heavens!! Despite the stress in the morning, I have loved those heart braids. I have loved my girls enthralled little faces as I held up a mirror for them to see the finished product, their sheer joy in this small thing.

This Valentine's morning was different. My oldest is in high school. Two years ago she decided she was too old for heart hair. I was incredulous and bereaved. I tried to persuade her that her middle school friends would think it was so cool. Pre-teens are not highly persuadable by their moms when the topic is "what is cool." I lost. So when daughter number two asked me last night if I would help her curl her hair for Valentines in the morning, I just sighed inwardly and agreed. 

Daughter #2 (Emma) seven years ago at age 5.
This is what Valentine's looks like now. I spent last night helping my oldest put together a package for her crush (I'd say boyfriend, but I haven't quite come to terms with it yet). We cut out hearts and wrote things like "U Rock my world" for pop rocks, "hottie" for a package of hot tamales. . . you get the idea. This morning I packed her lunch, so she could curl her hair and I rushed her off to high school, package in tow and kicked her out of my car (suddenly carrying around that package and then handing it off was intimidating). I raced home and helped daughter 2 (Emma) curl her hair and pick out a cute, but sophisticated Valentine outfit. Then the moment I'd waited for. Daughter number 3 (Chloe) was impatient for her heart braid. I added some pink chalk to her hair, which sent her brimming over with delight. We picked out a frilly, flowery, pink from head to toe outfit that her older sisters wouldn't be caught dead in. And I basked in her little girlness, her wide eyes as I showed her the finished product in the mirror, her tight squeezes and "thank you so much Mom!!"

When they were all off (child 4 in a romantic Batman hoodie) I caught my breath. This is my new normal. And I love it. I loved picking out candy for my teens boy crush and helping my middle schooler find just the right outfit and braiding Chloe's hair into a heart. But it sure was bittersweet only having one braid and knowing clearly now that soon their will be no heart braids. So, I am holding this moment in my heart and also the memory of those past Valentine's and feeling truly blessed. This is why I love Valentine's, these precious souls I get to love and braid and curl right into adulthood and their own bright futures. I'm just grateful to have had a chance to leave a heart shaped imprint on them along the way.

I love Seattle! Where else does a public library have an entire floor of red?

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