Valentine’s Day is a day for lovers. There are hearts, chocolate candies, cute little cards, and flowers everywhere. For many people, it’s also a day filled with loneliness.
Once I hit middle school, I started to hate Valentine’s Day because it just served to emphasize my loneliness. Navigating life is hard enough as a teenager. As a nerd with a misguided sense of fashion, I was so jealous of all the girls at school who got notes, cards, candies, or flowers from boys. I always dreamed of having a secret admirer, but that never happened. Even after I started dating in high school, I always managed to have a giant breakup in January. Therefore, I was always alone for Valentine’s Day. I tried to defy the loneliness by hanging out with all my single girlfriends, but it never fully worked.
As a mom, I am happily rediscovering the joy of Valentine’s Day through a child’s eyes.
I love helping my children make cute Valentine’s Day projects. In addition, I love buying the little cards from the store and going through the class list to address them to all of my children’s classmates. I even bought my daughter and me a set of matching Valentine’s Day leggings. My kids are too young to care about boyfriends or girlfriends and I have been married for ten years, so the pressure is finally off. We can enjoy Valentine’s Day as a family and eat heaps of chocolate in celebration.
I’m enjoying the happy childhood Valentine’s Days with my children now because I know that these days won’t last forever.
I know that my children will grow up and begin to navigate the world of relationships. They will face great joy and happiness, but also sadness and loneliness. While I can help support my children, I won’t be able to protect them from their own negative feelings. My dad always sent me flowers for Valentine’s Day. I loved them, but it still wasn’t the same as getting flowers from a cute boy at school. There was one year of my teenaged life when I actually did have a boyfriend on Valentine’s Day and it felt so special. I hope that my children will experience joy instead of loneliness each year on this day.
Unfortunately, for me, Valentine’s Day in college was lonelier than ever.
My freshman year of college was a rollercoaster of emotions as I learned how to live on my own without my family around to support me. I already had a strongly developed hatred of Valentine’s Day from middle and high school and then, as usual, I got dumped in January. In an effort to get rid of all my Valentine’s Day-related bad feelings, I went out to a spaghetti dinner with all the girls from my Bible study group. I was so proud of myself for spending a positive, happy evening. Then, I went back to my empty dorm room for the night. Big mistake! The loneliness kicked in and I ended up hanging out with a bunch of my coworkers and I drank way too much alcohol in a misguided attempt to drown out my feelings.
College can be such a dangerous time for young adults. They are on their own for the first time in their lives and they have ready access to drugs and alcohol. I wish I had an easy answer for how to parent your children to avoid these issues, but there is no easy answer. All you can do is help your teenagers develop healthy coping habits while they are still living with you and check in with them on a regular basis when they move out.
Surprisingly, the Valentine’s Day loneliness doesn’t necessarily end when you have a romantic partner.
When I had newborn babies, Valentine’s Day did not feel romantic at all. Instead of dressing up and feeling sexy, I was exhausted and covered in baby throw up. Valentine’s Day with my husband just involved cobbling together some leftovers and falling asleep as soon as we finished eating. Now that the kids are a little older, this year I get to look forward to attending a PTO meeting on Valentine’s Day. There are plenty of people who have partners but still have to spend the day alone. People are in long-distance relationships, soldiers are serving overseas, and many people have to work on Valentine’s Day.
Single parents face a particularly tough time on Valentine’s Day.
The holiday celebrates love and couples and just rubs it in your face when you don’t have that. There is so much pressure to find a date for Valentine’s Day just to avoid the loneliness. While it’s great to spend the day surrounded in the love of your children and family, it’s still not the same as having a romantic partner. Of course, you could just skip Valentine’s Day altogether and celebrate Galentine’s Day instead. Thanks for the idea, Parks and Recreation!
This year for Valentine’s Day, reach out to your friends who may be lonely at this time of year.
If you have time, take your friends out for a nice lunch. My daughter has an assignment from church to make Valentine’s Day cards to give out to people who may be lonely. She loves making the cards and I’m sure people will enjoy receiving them. (Especially if we include candy!) If your teenagers are moody on Valentine’s Day, try to understand that they may be feeling lonely. If all else fails, cover yourself in hearts and hand out candy to everyone you see!