Tag Archives: Valentine’s Day

When Love Walks In….


Valentine’s Day was a blast when I was little: school parties, cupcakes, chocolate, candy, feeling warm despite the cold of February in Buffalo, N.Y.

When I moved to Virginia, it was in the midst of the ubiquitous “Virginia is for Lovers” campaign designed to boost tourism.

Being from New York state, I took offense to that because I felt 1) that Virginia was stealing the super-popular “I ❤ N.Y.” campaign, and 2) that Virginia was for traitors to the Union.

It was those Virginia Februarys in which I learned about the “ice line” and how disappointing winters here can be: cold as fuck (certainly not Montana cold), but no snow. Just dry, gray, bitter bone cold.

After I moved to Virginia, I didn’t like Valentine’s Day much.

For my first Valentine’s Day in Virginia, I was 14 (oy vey, I do NOT miss that time) wondering what love is all about and witnessing a fair amount of discord in my parents’ marriage due to various disappointments in my mother and my dad trying to find his social niche after the move.

So I went looking. Not in a hopeless way, but as a true wonderer in doubt of the point of it all and thinking that it really didn’t exist in an obvious way; that the movies and TV shows were wildly exaggerating. That didn’t stop me from wondering if a small percentage of it were possible, somehere, in a distant land or maybe in the house next door: this perfect love, a love which was as Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians waxed, “it does not boast, and is patient” (I’m loosely paraphrasing) and that “it endures all things.”

I would add that to me, love also meant that it showed up when it said it would, that it would follow through on a promise or even a threat, that it would inspire silence when criticism would be waiting at the ready, finger on the trigger; and that it would simply wait until I softened.

I had to wait a long time before that kind of love stepped into my life, and when it did, I still was suspicious of it.

Before all that, and even in the midst of it, I lost enthusiasm for Valentine’s Day, especially as a mother. But I will admit that I am turning around. What I object to is the capitalization of the day, and the necessity for jewelers and Best Buy to get in the act. It’s the IN YOUR FACE, mandatory YOU MUST SHOW YOUR LOVE bullshit that turns me off, and has for at least 10 years.

The kids don’t bring home their handmade valentines anymore; my youngest is 11. Dan and I held each other this morning when Jackson Browne sang “Sky Blue and Black” on Pandora. The boys ask us about Valentine’s Day, expecting us to go on a hot date with chocolates and flowers, but that’s not how we roll. Especially with the kids now. Love isn’t dampened, it’s just more reserved. Maybe that’s a bummer. Diamonds don’t tell me how much my husband loves me, his being here day in and day out, helping me with everything and me helping him is what tells me he loves me.

I was chatting with some online friends and we agreed that Valentine’s Day is about family right now. I followed one of my friends’ leads and I’ll break out the china, crystal and sterling tonight for dinner. We will use the dining room.

My sons are good to me though. Thing 3 made me coffee this morning, just how I like it. Thing 2 kissed me on the forehead, he’s almost taller than I am now, and told me he loved me. I could feel his razor stubble from his upper lip. My heart leapt and sank because he’s so big. Thing 1, a master of satire, said “this Valentine’s Day, my 16th, I am still single. I will spend the evening in the basement crying, as I have all the years before.” Yesterday was Murphy’s seventh birthday; his face is whitening and he’s a little slower on the uptake yet he brims with love every time he torpedos my crotch. Charlie is Charlie, chewing on something, pulling on Murphy’s mane.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

I went with my husband to see “American Sniper” two weeks ago. The first show we tried to see was sold out. So we went to an early dinner instead. Over our coincidental orders of warm goat cheese and spiced pecan salads we started talking about my parents’ relationship and his parents’ relationship and how hard it must be to be our remaining parents, because he lost his father just last summer and I lost my mother nine months before that.

We also started talking about us, naturally, and I had to ask him, “Why? Why did you marry me?” I wasn’t seeking bullshit and “because you’re the best…” answers. I really wanted to know, because in my estimation, I am a giant pain in the ass. And when we met, I was a total hardass: I was funny, but rigid in my standards and I was jaded.

He simply said, “Because you are strong and you made me laugh, like no one else I know. I loved you very much and I knew, that as we got older and I might need you more than ever, that you would take care of me, you would have my back.”

Oh boy… is he in for a surprise.

Just kidding.

But sort of not, because who knows? Who knows how I will be when that time comes. Maybe I will be incapacited. I would hate to do that to him. But this is the gamble, isn’t it?

My husband is one of the kindest, gentlest, sincerest, effective, patient people I will EVER meet. This is my version of Dan:


om-nom from “Cut the Rope” — he’s one of the sweetest little creatures there is.

And he married me. This is who I think I am compared to him:


This is how I feel about myself from time-to-time. (I didn’t draw this; not in a million years. But I wish I could find the source for it.)

But he walked into my life and now he’s stuck with me.

I had a very small request of Dan when he proposed to me. I said “yes” obviously, but I said to him, no lie, “You must promise me that we will always pay the utility bills. If you can’t promise me that we will never lose power, or water or heat in our home, then I can’t marry you.”

Quickly nodding and with an understandably quizzical expression, he said “Sure.”

He never asked why, but over time I explained and he gets it. I didn’t have that kind of reliability growing up.

And here we are.

People, especially newlyweds and those intending on matrimony need to get this very basic understanding not just clear, but deeply knitted into their psyches: marriage and love is more than living together and playing house. It’s beyond the toothpaste cap being left off and piles of receipts and baseboards that need painting. It’s terribly loud, and unnervingly quiet. It’s about nasal hair and laundry duty; missing tools and body odors; it’s about running the sink for no reason and silently wondering when it will be turned off; it’s about turn-signal neglect and sore throats; about rescue dogs and emotional transferrence; it’s about too many pens and junk drawers; debt and stupid purchases; expensive dinners you regret but paying for; biting your tongue; it’s about endless sports or Bravo TV; about careers derailing and supporting anyway; it’s about saying stupid things and begging for and allowing clarification; it’s about hair in the shower drain and stubble in the sink; about buying the wrong thing and being cool about it; it’s about fears, secrets and shames hemorrhaging in unexpected ways; about psychotherapy and patience during unexpected growth patterns; about miscommunication and apology; about false praise backfiring when you really should’ve been honest; about parents dying and not knowing how to deal; about expensive hobbies and foolish ideas; about driver’s seats not being restored to the primary position and obvious domestic inertia when you walk through the door; about excessive amounts of exercise equipment when a simple daily walk will do; about crazy in-laws and amazing in-laws; it’s about conspiratorially watching an inappropriate YouTube* video away from your children’s ear shot and dark chocolate because it’s healthy; it’s about ratty t-shirts and health changes; sharing your interest despite a prejudice; mood swings and confusion, a cup of tea showing up just because; asking for advice and taking it; bad food choices and nocturnal flatulence; blanket thievery and tulips by surprise and so much more and maybe less… the one thing we do know about love is that we don’t know all about it.

When children are added to the mix, it’s especially essential that if you haven’t already, that you get your head out of your ass and put their needs ahead of your wants. I recently read that Pope Francis said that people who choose to not have children are selfish. I am digressing, but just for a sentence: No, no they are not selfish; what’s selfish is having kids and then treating them like garbage.

I’m back.

Valentine’s Day isn’t a gimmick to me anymore, the way I see it, we should do what we can not just celebrate love, but to recognize it in all its imperfect perfection.

*Gilbert Gottfried reading “50 Shades of Gray”

So on this day, of all days, thanks for reading. You’re good eggs. Here’s a Valentine doodle I sincerely totally made for you:


Thank you.

What I Will Gain by Quitting — 2: Five days after Facebook Lent Give-Up


This post is incredibly self-absorbed, so if you click X right now, I’d not blame you. However… what if what I have to say strikes a chord with you?

Here is my first entry about this topic: https://mollyfielddotcom.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/what-i-will-gain-from-quitting-journal-entry-1/

So it’s been five days since I left Facebook for Lent. (I think of it more as a matter of convenience actually, as I look back on it now because I’m not terribly religious, but I am spiritual.) The first thing I’ve noticed, and have allowed myself to admit is that by being on Facebook for so long, I’d become programmed or conditioned into thinking about my life, my day-to-day, or even my extraordinary experiences as status updates or as blog posts.

Often, I would wonder,

“Is this clever enough, will I get a Like?”

“Will it impress or somehow engage someone on a deeper level, or will it be ignored?”

“Do I want a deeper level? Do I even want to engage? Am I lying still to myself about all this?”

This is deep stuff and I am a deep thinker.

from http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/headcandy/2009/02/10-tips-for-giving-up-facebook-during-lent.html – this is a 4-year-old article. Its best line: “Write down the last five things you did. Wait ten minutes. Read the list. Ask yourself if you give a &%$#.”

Now, after a few days off the grid, I find myself itching to go there, during moments of perceived boredom, during moments of downtime; and I don’t know why yet. In reality, I am a SAHM, so there really isn’t any downtime; something always needs mending, cleaning, attending. I don’t know why I think I’d be better off reading about someone else’s life: it’s a distraction. A way of not dealing with my own.

Is it truly connection?

What is the point?

Is it to compare and contrast?

These are queries; and I haven’t a clue. I don’t judge anyone else; Facebook has been invaluable to shut-ins and people who have little outside exposure. But what about the rest of us? Those who are gregarious and social by nature? Is Facebook turning us, those people into shut-ins? I remember that Facebook lets 13-year-olds on it. I remember how it started: as the revenge tactic of a snubbed young man who decided to release his anger publicly at the woman who rejected him; but that wasn’t enough: he had to pull other women into the fold and embarrass slander them too.

The entire Facebook concept was begat of rejection, shame and vengeance. Of course we are told it has evolved since then, and it largely has, but still there lies a mustard seed of its essence: comparison and emptiness. I am kidding myself if I believe otherwise. Watch “The Social Network” if you aren’t savvy to its origins. Often I would be tired after being online. Seldom refreshed. – Me.

I used to be a news hound. I still am, or at least I thought I am. But I find myself discarding my news updates in favor of going on Facebook. I used to exercise diligently. I used to have amazing self-discipline. That has wandered away. I am hopeful that I will fill the ever-growing void of Facebook with self-engagement, with self-empowerment.

. . . . . . . . .

Last week, for Valentines Day, a “holiday” I would normally reject, I made “lovesagna” (instead of lasagne), I made red velvet cupcakes and I dipped strawberries in chocolate. All of this, this wellspring of familial enthusiasm for the babies I created with the love of my life was encouraged by a meeting with a eldercare consultant, who knowingly nodded to my snub of Valentines Day, my referring to it as a manufactured holiday. It was never really celebrated in my house as a child; my family of origin was not a dependably happy place. Lots of pain, secrets, privacy. I told her these things; we must get to know these consultants in a way we are not comfortable with. They need to know things: like how we engage with our parents. That was a very difficult exchange.

She understood my reluctance, my inwardly directed shame at not being a better daughter; at not tending to my aging and needy mother. She understood my hesitancy to over-perform with people who did not over-perform for me. Who left me waiting outside the camp grounds or the dance alone or with teachers or counselors who’d had places to go and who knew that although it wasn’t my fault, I was the target of their heat vision. So much pain, but so much joy too. She answered me with, “You can not always give back what was not easily given to you.”

She listened to my recollections of the day and others like it and quietly said later on, “I just believe we should celebrate something every day, and if we are given this gift, to celebrate the most wonderful thing of all, the one day we can let it all out there, and put it out for the world to see, we should. We just should.” And she was right. I’ve never given much celebration to anything major or minor occasions in my life; a remnant of my parents’ emotional parsimony and narcissism. I need to change that. I am demonstrative with my kids, but I am not honoring my true inner cheerful human person when I get vexed every time a happy event comes around just because my parents had issues with it.

How this dovetailed though, with the Facebook sacrifice (ouch) is that I wouldn’t have done those things, I wouldn’t have gone to the store, gotten the makings, gotten out the pans and the mixer and the gear to make those foods because why… I would have gone on Facebook instead. I would have logged on and said “Happy Valentines Day!” and I wouldn’t have meant it. Not one syllable. I would have Liked other people’s stuff, and Liked their stories, and I would have Shared some sentiment of the day, and I would have grumbled inside, fueling my inner misanthrope and calling myself a hypocrite because I would have been denying my inner self: the private person I am, the deeply thinking and deeply feeling person I am, the analyst, the artist, all of it denied rejected to stay popular with the crowd. To do what everyone else is doing.

I celebrated Valentine’s Day and the best part of all of this is that I didn’t say it on Facebook, but I said it privately, to my family, and I meant every syllable. For the first time in a very long while. Probably ever.

Yesterday, Sunday, I watched nothing but old movies on the couch. I watched “Gaslight” and “How to Catch a Thief” and then later I watched the not-as-old, “A Beautiful Mind”; I was struck by them all. Every single one of those stories was about masquerade in one fashion or another. We all have vulnerabilities.

Today, I am waking with less self-consciousness of my thoughts; whether they are “Share” worthy. Wondering if any of it matters. But I miss my close FB friends very much. But I don’t reach out; I feel slightly alone, I feel slightly sad about my decision. But this is how it goes. This is where the growth is. This is where the pay dirt is. As my very wise therapist said years ago when I was addressing my addiction to chaos he said, “all resistance is to change.” How right he was.

Thank you.

ps – here is the next entry: https://mollyfielddotcom.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/what-i-will-gain-by-quitting-facebook-for-lent-3-resisting-urges-feeling-left-out/