We woke this morning as we had every other day this week – this Spirit Week – argh Spirit Week – the love/hate week filled with favorite characters and look alike outfits and backwards day and today to cap it off – VALENTINE’S DAY!
I can hear our kids upstairs making valentines for us and then heard, “DON’T FORGET TO MAKE SOME FOR THE CATS!” and then an entirely sincere “Thank you I did almost forget the most important people in our family.”
Last week I was told I wouldn’t be needed to volunteer at the party in my first graders classroom because aren’t we lucky – we have an abundance of parent volunteers. I had accepted my fate. BUT THEN I got a last minute text this morning to say a mom couldn’t come after all and could I be there?
WHOOSH up the stairs to shower and dress in half the time I usually require but my heart was aflutter with getting to be there for Love Day.
We took a moment to do our annual Valentine’s Day photo shoot and celebrated Sir Chacho the Wise who has only been with us almost a year but is the most beloved orange cat in all the land.
It was zero degrees this morning at drop off on this Valentine’s Day in Chicago. The high of 15 degrees today will likely mark the second-coldest Valentine’s Day on record in Chicago. The coldest was 8 degrees in 1943.
But my heart was warm as I sat in my car and listened to black coffee in bed on the radio when I looked up to see my mom friend (one who at this time last year I didn’t even know yet but today is one of my closest confidants – what would we do without our Galentines) who had just returned from a trip to India walking to her car. She sat in my car and we talked as fast as we could before I could in order to get inside for the PAR-TAY.
Once I ran inside, I signed in and got my volunteer pass which always makes my heart skip a beat because WHO THE HELL DO I THINK I AM but being in that office where everybody knows me and my kids and makes me feel welcome and appreciated, when they are the ones deserving of appreciation, well, it’s A LOT to take in.
The Principal and I had a mini pow wow which is one of my favorite things, and we spoke of hope and positivity and doing what’s best for our kids and our school and our community and I leave feeling as though we have work to do and yet, anything is possible.
Here is where the real magic happens. I walk into the first grade classroom. It is loud. It is filled with pink and red and 36 6 and 7 year olds who are bursting with enthusiasm and excitement at this day of love. My kids beam. BEAM. At me. Their faces light up when they see me. And mine reflects that light right back at them. This is the shit nobody prepares you for. I know one day they may not rush to hug me and show me off, but today is not that day.
The other moms who are just as excited to be there as me are all ready to get going on our crafts and we move from table to table. My running joke is that I don’t know my kids – I’ve never met them before HA HA HA – and all the first graders yell YES YOU HAVE YOU ARE THEIR MOM and everyone dies laughing. When you have a good bit, you stick with it, you know what I’m saying?
I ask each kid what their favorite dessert is and the most common answer is ice cream or cake, but then a couple of them threw in Lindor chocolates and I’m all, OKAY THEN I see you fancy first graders.
Quite a few of them want hugs or to tell me ALL THE THINGS and to remind me of all the times I’ve seen them before and mostly, they just want to be heard. I can do that.
Speaking of being heard, their teacher. HOLY WOW I don’t know how these teachers do it. One teacher and an aide for 36 kids is A WHOLE LOT. But there is professionalism and empathy and respect all on display and I am just in awe.
We finished our time with crafts and it was time to go. They would do their handing out valentines this afternoon. I got all the hugs (including hugging their teacher twice and heaping all praise upon her) and walked out into the hallway to see the other first grade class walking to lunch. SO many waves and hellos and smiles and heart shirts and single file lines.
The air is electric. It is hopeful. It is innocent. It is full of possibility. It is the antidote to toxicity that can cloud my joy. My family’s joy. My gratitude. It gets hard to see through some of the fog sometimes and I don’t ever want to get dragged down and forget just how much I have to be grateful for.
Sometimes that spark of hope comes in a last minute text on a Friday morning to get showered (after almost 3 days of NOT) and get my butt over to the school.
When I tell you that I needed to be feet on the floor over there on this day…it’s the antidote to toxicity. These kids and staff at that school I tell you what. I am FILLED UP with love & hope & gratitude today.
I wrote this in a post from last year about the book fair at school and I’ll say it again – The world can seem like a giant dumpster fire anywhere you look – but in this school – and likely yours too – these kids and teachers and staff are killing it with kindness and joy and excitement for what today holds. I want in on THAT. I want to pay attention to THAT. I want what they have, so I’m taking it and adding to it.
I asked them tonight what the best part of their day was and the answer was, “when you walked in.”
Isn’t that what Valentine’s Day is all about? Love and celebrating the love in our lives in the many many forms it can take? The giving and receiving of love is something I never ever take for granted. And it’s not the big gestures that get me, it’s the small ways we show up for each other. The way we hold space for each other. We find love in friendships and pets and partners and children and schools and teachers and even a crisp sunny Chicago day. Well I am feeling the love from all over on this day. For this I am thankful. I hope you are too, my friends. YAY LOVE!
ps: my dear sweet husband got me an essential oil diffuser and the new Jessica Simpson book and I may be up all night reading that sucker. Hows that for romance?