Wednesday, February 14, 2018

"It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like, so long as somebody loves you.” Roald Dahl

My 13-year-old daughter is experiencing the excitement of her first love.

Ah, love. The world of movies, media and special occasion stores reminds us often that we are nothing if we are not loved.  

I suspected something was up last November when a date appeared next to her Instagram handle with a heart and lock/key emoji. 

She and M, who lives about ½ mile away, celebrate monthly anniversaries on their Snapchat stories with messages with hidden meanings only they can decipher.

This week, her 13-year-old boyfriend has been out of school with strep throat and a high fever. Yesterday she didn’t wear her usual make-up to school and left her hair in its naturally curly, wild state. I asked why, and she said when M isn’t at school she “just doesn’t care.”

Last evening, she and I ventured out to a store to purchase cards for the people in our lives we love. All variety of pink and red objects of affection met us at the entrance: cards professing love, stuffed animals holding heart-shaped chocolates. She chose a small card for M and seemed satisfied. But while we perused the red and pink cards, she told me of a girl at school who paraded around with a giant teddy bear from her boyfriend at school, saying she wanted a giant teddy bear to parade around too. 

If we don't receive a giant teddy bear, are we still loved? 

When we returned home, she straightened her hair and this morning, donned mascara in anticipation of seeing her valentine at school. On the drive to school, however, she lamented the text she received from M: he wouldn’t be there. She became despondent.

“I did all of this work for nothing,” she said, referring to her make-up and hair.

I wanted to shake her. Darling, please do not define your beauty or worth by the man who sees or does not see you. 

Holidays like Valentine's Day are difficult. Loaded with expectations and pressure, we lament when things aren't as the Hallmark store tells us they should be.

Today, no matter who you are, single or paired, may you feel loved. May you experience love and cultivate love: love for life, love for beauty, love for compassion, love for forgiveness and most of all, love for yourself. Because as my favorite quote from Shakespeare's King Henry V says: “self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin as self-neglecting."

Happy Valentine's Day