I am a happily married mama with three little ladies. I am a teacher, a poet, a playwright. I live on a tiny island in the Pacific Northwest and write babybythesea.net often, or at least when I'm not making espresso or sneaking chocolate.

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Valentines Day with My Girls

Here’s an early elementary memory:

I’m seated at my desk all but hugging my construction paper decoupaged tissue box. I’ve spent hours on it, even picked the largest box I could find in my house, stuffing the unused tissues behind my red plaid couch.  In my class of twenty five, I shake three tiny envelopes around at mailbox’s bottom. I am the waify sailor girl who loves boats and words and sticks out in suburbia’s smooth surface. I take these confectionary heart fortunes as truth, I like you a lot, take them home and place them in a drawer in my dresser for I’m never brave enough to eat the words of others.  Lessons taught at an early age feel so wonderful when learned anew.

I am so glad classrooms today encourage each child to give one valentine to each and every classroom friend.  The holiday is about love and friendship and kindness and red and pink.

My mind swirls to homemade heart cookies, pink play dough and felt heart scraps.  Past midnight, my mind swirls heart-carved potato stamps, hand dyed coffee filter love notes and mini match boxes filled with jelly beans.  My mind swirls to a nightmare: I see our middle little girl in her early twenties, driving the old pickup she’s restored with her daddy.  Her newest bumper sticker stings a bit as she drives away – I’m Not Crafty.

Our first two daughters share everything in their room, and a common love for meatloaf and stickers. One dreams of being a playwright, while the other dreams of operating an elephant and rabbit ranch with a lot of ponies.  Yup.  They’re different all right.

I want to follow my girls’ lead and skip their stretching shadows and be able to offer a hand and connect their finger tops like accordian paper dolls.

There are afternoons or evenings or whenver time finds its place where I knit in a close corner and listen to my girls play. I pick up on patterns and make mind’s sticky notes for activities to do another time, another day. Pinterest helps melt minutes into hours, true, but it also sparks phenomenal projects for special days.

Last year we made these valentines for school:

They loved posing for the picture, and punching lollipop holders.  But it was all my deal, my idea and, really, my craft.

During swing’s high, forward glide I ask my Lucy May if she has ideas for her class Valentines. She is obsessed with her cereal box mailbox, imagines it can talk and burbs a sound like looooove each time it gets stuffed full of friend’s valentines. At the grocery store, the pharmacy – really, the only two stores we regularly visit on our tiny island, she’s smitten with the cardboard box of commercial, ready-made love notes. Weeks ago, she began cereal spoonfuls with, Mama, this year may I make my own choices for my own classroom and my own valentines?

I mean, really, how could I deny this request? I imagine some mommy dearest moment where I’m clad in a canvas crafting apron forcing Lucy to gather glue, handmade dyes and stacks of tissue paper. I’m waving a wooden paintbrush in the air, Lucy May you only have twenty more Valentine’s to make! Hurry up!

I do not wish to take the joy out of art, nor the confidence away which comes and arrives with choice.

So I let her choose the kitten cards, the ones where tiny cats wear sweaters and have phrases in bad font like, You’re puuuuurfect.

She fell in love with the just tear apart and bake Mini Mouse sugar (and one thousand other ingredient) cookies in grocery’s corner. It seemed to her a project she just might be able to do all by herself, aside from me turning on the oven, opening the oven door.

She’s so excited. She pried open piggy bank’s bottom to deliver twelve dimes and six nickles to repay the valumtime surprise supplies, Mama.

I can’t deny her choice, I can’t deny her smile. It’s really my own issue where I wanted to stain our table pink and red in project’s fingerprints. It’s really enough for me to make a cute one for each daughter, a lovey-serious card for the hubby.

Lucy wants to know how many sleeps until her preschool party.

Lucy tells her big sister all about her plans. Moments pass, Betty Rose whispers in my ear,
Mama, I have the best idea for my class Valentine’s, and it looks like I’ve got my Mommy-Daughter crafting holiday wish.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Comments (4)

  1. Pingback: » Today’s Mama:::Valentine’s Day with My Girls Baby By The Sea

  2. 6512 and growing 02/09/2012 at 4:21 pm

    “I imagine some mommy dearest moment where I’m clad in a canvas crafting apron forcing Lucy to gather glue, handmade dyes and stacks of tissue paper.”

    Ha! Loved that. So true, and yet so hard to give up our ideals and values in raising kids, even when it comes to valentine day cards. But saying “yes” to our kids when we can is a good practice. Lovely writing here.

  3. Jenn Furber 02/09/2012 at 3:11 pm

    Thanks, Katie. It’s amazing to see the power in the little things… Thank you for your kind words.

  4. Katie 02/09/2012 at 11:04 am

    Love it!
    I’ve been talking about making valentine’s for Theo’s class party lately with him, knowing he would not be able to make and I’d en up making the bulk of them. Yesterday I bought a box of Mr. Happy valentine’s complete with tattoos while at Target. I couldn’t resist! He freaked when I showed them to him last night. Now, like Lucy, he is counting down the days to hand out his enveloped notes and nobody will be unhappy at our home art table. Win-win!

    Happy Valentine’s Day to YOU! xo