Valley Voices

Jill Simonian: The free gift moms truly need for Valentine’s Day

Sometimes, for busy parents, a sticky note has to take the place of a card.
Sometimes, for busy parents, a sticky note has to take the place of a card.

“What do you want for Valentine’s Day?” my husband asked. I just looked at him.

“Nothing.” I wasn’t lying. Valentine’s Day has always been a no-gift holiday for me… but that’s just my crazy way.

I take that back: I do enjoy flowers on Valentine’s Day. And chocolate. And maybe seeing my daughters dressed in pink frilly tutus just because. (So there, I lied a little.)

These days, I care less about mementos and more about moments. As we moms know, time is our most precious resource. We want more of it. We want it to slow down. We wonder why 10 years ago seems like yesterday and yesterday seems like an eternity ago.

I wish I could ask for “time” as a Valentine’s Day gift.

Since Feb. 14 fell on a Saturday last year, I tried to make time stop a bit for my family on Valentine’s Day morning. I decked our kitchen in red hearts, with ribbon streamers hanging from the lights, and whipped up a brunch with strawberry waffles, raspberry smoothies, super strong coffee and frosty sprinkled doughnuts.

My husband picked up these gorgeous roses for all of us girls – I got my hot pink favorites and our daughters got lavender. It was adorable. I may’ve cried a little bit because it was such a thoughtful, low maintenance morning – just how we like it over here.

I was happy – genuinely happy. But later, I looked back at the pictures we snapped from that morning and unexpectedly felt a different perspective: The note that my husband had sweetly written me was on a sticky note, stuck to my vase of roses.

In the moment, I truly loved it and we both laughed about it (how he forgot to get a card from the store, how being married for several years has turned us into a most comfortable and casual couple. You know the drill).

But, seeing that one-liner sticky note in a most matter-of-fact and plain way, made me rethink a few things.

No gifts? No problem. No written words in long, romantic form to express “I love you” or anything else that holds sentimentality? Hmm.

One thing my husband always did when we were dating and first married was write me cards. Nothing incredibly over-the-top or overblown; just nice, thoughtful and honest words – in his handwriting – that always made me feel amazing no matter what he opted to express.

Somewhere between our second child and toddler potty training and our older daughter starting transitional kindergarten this year, the written cards disappeared. I never thought about them until I saw the picture of our sticky note.

Time is passing quickly. We’ve settled into life. We’re happy with our kids and work and family as all things move and shift and circle beyond our control. We’re overextended and sometimes forget to get to the store for a Valentine’s Day card.

We’re tired. We often forget we got married because we were so in love (because we’re tired and overextended parents of two young kids now). Time passes and none of us are exempt from forgetting about things… it’s just the way life is. A slippery slope? I think so.

So, in an effort to resurrect some kind of romantic tradition, I recently requested that I receive a handwritten card – in long form, with more than one sentence, containing honest and thoughtful words about whatever he happened to be thinking (just like he’d done years ago) – for my recent birthday.

My birthday came and I got the card. I opened it. I read his handwritten words. I smiled. I cried. I felt more fulfilled than I’ve felt in a long time. Aha. What I needed the most was to see words and thoughts and love, on paper, from my husband.

(Maybe I’m just a visual person?)

The only ones who can take care of us moms – is us. Forget the gifts. Forget the fancy dinner at the restaurant that charges you triple the cost just because it’s Valentine’s Day weekend. Forget the chocolates and wish-lists for some bracelet you saw at the mall (ok, don’t forget the chocolates… that was rash).

This Valentine’s Day, no matter what traditions you might be celebrating as a couple, as a family or simply as a friend, I challenge you to request that your significant other write you a good, old-fashioned handwritten note. It’s the most valuable gift you won’t know you needed so much until you get it. And, it actually makes time stop for a bit.

Trust me, this mom knows.

Jill Simonian was born and raised in Fresno, CA and graduated from Sanger High School. Founder of the lifestyle blog for moms, Jill often appears on NBC’s “Today” show, HLN’s “The Daily Share,” Southern California news programs and writes for a variety of parenting websites. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two daughters. Follow her on Twitter @jillsimonian.