As we all know, Presidents’ Day is an American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February. This year, the third Monday in February was today, February 17. Despite being a federal holiday, school was in session for my kids (because of all the snow days), but the focus wasn’t on our presidents.
When you’re in elementary school, nearly every big holiday is feted in some manner. Just because school was canceled in our area on Valentine’s Day didn’t mean that the holiday would pass without celebration. Today, it was Valentine’s Day again for my 2nd and 5th graders. Step aside Washington and Lincoln. Cupid is king!
When you’re in elementary school, Valentine’s Day means rendering a shoebox into a mailbox with paint and stickers, swapping not-so-personal mini cards with all of your classmates (don’t leave anyone out!), and munching on a couple of treats (one sweet, one healthy-ish) while playing a themed game of Word Bingo consisting of vocabulary such as Cupid, heart and love.
When you’re the mom of kids in elementary school, Valentine’s Day means rummaging through your closets to find empty shoeboxes, purchasing those pre-made cards (after either dragging the kids into Target against their will, or shopping alone under the duress of possibly buying cards they won’t like or think are too babyish), and staying up late to bake dozens of red and pink cupcakes decorated with conversation hearts (making sure not to use the candies that say things like “Kiss me” and “Love u”).
All in all, not too time consuming or stressful in terms of parent responsibilities.
Until … my kids decided they didn’t want pre-made, boxed cards this year. This year they wanted to be different. They wanted to be creative and clever. Like the cupcakes, they wanted something homemade (read: mom-made). Oy! Did I mention that this bomb was dropped just four days before Valentine’s Day and we had been under the wrath of the Polar Vortex and Winter Storm Pax for a week, making it nearly impossibly to get anywhere?
While my stress level slowly climbed, we brainstormed a few ideas and the boys settled on two concepts involving Pop Rocks and Smarties, plus a separate lollipop idea for my older son’s best friends. I applauded their imagination and ingenuity. No input from Pintrest needed.
Problem was, I couldn’t find Pop Rocks or Smarties anywhere. Instead, I came home with themed pencils and cherry Twizzlers — and lollipops. We once again brainstormed ideas on what oh-so-clever sayings we could match to these items, and still without consulting Pintrest, we were able to come up with a simple, “You’ve got the ‘write’ stuff” and “Have a sweet Valentine’s Day” to use respectively. On Valentine’s Eve (that’s the day before Valentine’s Day for those of you not in the know), they spent over an hour making gift tags, tying them to each item with raffia, and gently (I use that term loosely) placing the completed Valentines into their respective backpacks for delivery the next day at school. The end products weren’t elaborate or beautiful or even totally original, but the boys were proud of their creations and I was proud of them.
However, those Valentines would have to wait because school was canceled again for Friday, February 14. Yes, another snow day. [At least I hadn’t started baking all those cupcakes yet — silver linings, people.]
As I indicated in my inaugural post, I am trying to be less of a controlling perfectionist. Giving up control of the Valentine’s Day cards was a winning moment for me, even though having two boys does make it a little easier to not stress about perfect presentation (I only asked for neat handwriting).
Then, on Sunday when my perfectionist ways were tested again, I remained strong. Trying to figure out when I could squeeze in baking the homemade, peanut-free cupcakes I had planned, I took the easy way out and bought cupcakes. Gasp! Store bought cupcakes?! This was a big step for me. Normally I wouldn’t even think about sending my kids to school with store-bought cupcakes. But the truth is, kids don’t care. No one is running home to tell their parents that the mom in charge of the sweet treats didn’t bake the cupcakes from scratch. And if they did, who cares? Will I really be judged for sending in store-bought cupcakes to a Valentine’s Day party held three days after Valentine’s Day? Probably not … but since I’m still a little new at this relinquishing-control-and-cutting-corners-so-everything-isn’t-perfect thing, I did add a conversation heart to each cupcake for a slightly more homemade feel. That’s progress.
So today, February 17, it was Valentine’s Day, Round 2. Screw Presidents’ Day — our kids honored Cupid, exchanged messy Valentines and ate store-bought cupcakes … and I was a better person for it.