When you wake up at sunrise on an island it’s easy to think I want this whole day.
On the island, there’s nothing to do but gather friends for a stroll to the beach where coffee, pastries, and fruit await you. There’s nothing to be on a sunny day far away from winter but grateful and warm.
My beloved friend Nina invited me to join her in celebrating her 40th birthday in the Turks and Caicos Islands. We traveled as a group of women, all of us married, all of us mothers, most of us educators; it was the ultimate 35-and-up club. Just a few women and five days away.
I shy away from the term “girls’ trip” to describe this escapade. Our adventure abroad felt intentionally themed in the arts of adapting and adjusting to the moment. This 5-day birthday party was the love child of self-care and community care. We talked openly about our relationships, we rested, we ate with both hands, and no one was on our laps. It was all I could have asked for.
On the second day of the trip, I realized that I missed my partner and my children, but simultaneously, I had no desire for them to join me, or to return to them any earlier than I had planned. This space of security and separation felt like a sanctuary. It was like emerging from being in love with my family, and remembering how happy I am just to be alive.
At dinner, we ordered almost every dessert on the menu at seven stars resort to share. No one complained or was busy counting calories, we were women with the kind of bodies that birth life into the universe and we celebrated our strength in swimsuits and sand.
So what does this all have to do with what your mom really wants for Valentine’s Day? Well, it struck me on this vacation that the love I really needed was my own. When a group of mothers have no one to mother, they turn all of that care and attention to themselves, and after pregnancies and years of breast-feeding and parent-teacher conferences and finding snow pants, the opportunity to sleep and eat uninterrupted is everything.
This is my list of the three things I think your mom really wants for Valentine’s Day:
- Give your mom the romance of reflection, of journaling and self-care, and let her love herself.
- Give your mom kid-free time with other moms to talk to, to listen to, to eat with. This Valentine’s Day let platonic love and friendship be honored for the lifeline they really are.
- Of course, dessert or sweetness and, of course, her favorite whatever she likes. This Valentine’s Day, I challenge you to know what your mom likes and find out and give her that.
Parenting question for the month of February: How do you model self-love for your children? How do you think the way you love yourself will impact the way your kids feel about themselves as adults?
Political question for the month of February: Is it radical for women to prioritize themselves and their relationships with each other once they become partners and parents?
Play question for the month of February: Make valentines at any age with a little finger paint and construction paper, but not just for schoolmates, but maybe for neighbors, or cousins, or folks who live at the retirement home near your house also. Show your kids how powerful love is by turning it into art and sharing it far and wide and as creatively as you can.
Until March, my beloved reader, I leave you with this:
“A mother understands what a child does not say.”
— Jewish Proverb