My 10-y/o daughter couldn’t keep the secret a second longer, and just confessed that she’d written a book of poetry about how much she loves me. It will be unveiled tomorrow. My son did the same last year, in a multi-media format, and I remember it had started with: “You sparkle like the sun.”
Now it’s often been observed that I’m pretty generous — and even, let’s face it, a bit non-discriminating — when it comes to dispensing love . . . but the love I feel for these two remarkable souls I call my children is simply overwhelming. The word gratitude doesn’t come close to describing the tsunami of appreciation I feel for these precious, extraordinary creatures I’m blessed to have in my world.
When I pressed my Katy for hints about the her book, she said, “It’s like the Valentine one you wrote for us a long time ago.” It surprised me that I didn’t recall what she was talking about, and surprised me even more when she pulled out the tattered copy. It was a manuscript I had written maybe 6 years ago — at the request of my publisher at the time (Orchard/Scholastic) — that was meant to be published as a book that represented a Valentine from a parent to a child of any age. I wrote the manuscript, but then the sales team at the publisher decided it should lose the Valentine theme and become more age-specific. So after I did a substantial edit, it became what ultimately was published as “Yummiest Love.” Here was the original manuscript, however, that Katy had held onto — an ode to my two children.
My Forever Valentine
One February fourteenth, you gave me a bear hug and a sloppy kiss and I thought it was the most perfect Valentine I’d ever get. But the next year you drew me a heart with your orange crayon and I knew that for all the Februarys to come you would have my heart completely and you would be my forever Valentine.
You laughed out loud in March and the delicious sound of it reminded me of a long-ago March when I would make my crazy face a hundred times in a row if it was making you laugh, because hearing you laugh was the best thing in my world. It still is.
While you were taking a bath in April I thought about another April when you never wanted to get in a bath . . . but then once you did, you never wanted to get out and your toes and fingers would turn into raisins. I’d lift you out and roll you up like a burrito in your towel, singing, “Ay, ay, ay, ay . . . I have a baby burrito,” and pretend to gobble you up.
In May I watched you eat your broccoli and I remembered another May when you hated broccoli. And another one when you loved it. And another one when you hated it. And another one when you loved it.
In June I picked up your favorite book, and thought back to a different June when you asked so many questions during our story time together that one picture book could take a whole afternoon of sharing. I’m glad you still ask a lot of questions.
The crickets were singing in July and they reminded me of a long-ago July when I rocked you to sleep in my arms every night on our porch. That year the crickets’ song and the rustle of the wind in the trees blended together with the feel of your soft, sweet breath against my skin and the warmth of your tiny body and the million twinkling stars.
And thinking about those stars reminded me of a song you sang in August—not that August but the one when you started singing Twinkle, Twinkle all by yourself. And half way through, you’d switch to the Alphabet Song because the tunes are the same and you had a great ear for music and you thought the two songs must be one somehow. And now you know all the words to lots of songs, but I still like ABCD Little Star the best.
You cried in September and I thought about another September when you were hurt and I couldn’t fix it. Remembering that still breaks my heart.
In October you looked so amazing in your Halloween costume and I thought about the Halloween you discovered chocolate for the first time. Weeks later I was still pulling you away from the neighbors’ doors.
You were so grown-up and polite at the Thanksgiving table in November, and I thought about a different Thanksgiving when you weren’t so polite and I had to ask you to behave and you said, “But I AM being have!”
In December you counted how many days were left in the year and I remembered another December when you couldn’t count to twenty without sticking eleventeen in there somewhere. And now you can count much higher than that, and you never, ever say eleventeen anymore. But sometimes I miss eleventeen. I think it was my favorite number.
I shivered in January, and remembered the January we invented the snuddle—a cross between a snuggle and a cuddle, but much better and warmer than either of them. Would you snuddle with me now?
Then suddenly it’s February fourteenth again and you’re a whole year older than you were last Valentine’s Day. And I know that before I can take a breath it will be February fourteenth yet again. All year long I watch you shine. Shine, my amazing Valentine. Shine, my curious, courageous, limitless Valentine.
Today I think of all the Valentine’s Days still to come, and how it seems impossible that I could love you even more with every passing year, but that is what happens. And though you are my forever Valentine, you are also forever changing and growing and that will never stop either, and all I can really do is hang on for the ride.
Winter, spring, summer, fall . . . always my Valentine.
Shine, shine, my Valentine.
* * *
I was right. Every year I DO love them even more, and they are most definitely changing and growing at lightning-speed, and I still know that all I can do is hang on for the ride. But I’m so, so grateful for this ride.
Categories: Juicy Joy