I’m (Not So) Secretly Happy That My Kids Aren’t Making School Valentine’s This Year
And I Feel a Little Guilty About It
I think we can all agree that it’s been a strange year. My kids have been learning virtually for the last 11 months because our school system in Maryland has, until recently, not deemed it safe enough for teachers and students to return to the building.
While I have missed the traditional first day of school outfits, pictures, and send offs, I have enjoyed having them home full-time and knowing that they have been safe and healthy during the pandemic.
I know that we are also one of the lucky families because even though there are four kids ranging from kindergarten to high school in our family, we have been able to find them their own independent learning space where they don’t have to contend with each other’s background noise.
Heck, even my husband has his own makeshift home office. I’m the only one that is still sitting at the kitchen table so that I can be accessible to everyone. I’m the unofficial IT gal in the house and so if something happens to our connection, I get tagged to fix it so that everyone can get back online and back to work.
I have two older children, one in middle school and one in high school, who no longer have special parties to celebrate Halloween and Valentine’s Day. Can I be honest? It was a bit of a relief that we no longer had to remember to buy or make Valentine’s for my oldest children’s classmates and teachers.
I think that crafting lost its shine for my oldest because of his dysgraphia. Writing is a royal pain in the you know what for him. While he liked the parties, he hated writing and/or crafting Valentine’s. When it takes you two or even three times as long to write as it does everyone else, those activities are more of a chore and just aren’t any fun.
And I know that this will be an unpopular opinion, but making sure that my children had time to make their Valentine’s and that we had the glitter, glue, and stickers for each valentine made the whole shebang one.more.thing that we didn’t have time for in our busy lives.
I guess that we could have gone to the grocery store to buy those cheap tear apart Valentine’s, but my kids love crafting. Well, they all do except the oldest. He still thinks we should just give out the candy, eat junk food, and be done with it.
As a mom, I felt the nagging obligation to attend all of the school parties. With four kids, I wasn’t able to spend adequate time in anyone’s classroom and spent most of the two hours walking the halls, popping into one of my children’s classrooms, helping with the distribution of snacks, and popping back out.
Because of my stay-at-home-mom status and the fact that we lived within walking distance of the elementary school, I was often one of the few parents who stayed for clean up. I often would help the teachers put away the extra snacks, throw away the tablecloths, and undecorated the classroom.
By the time we got home from the school parties, I was done and more than happy to call in for pizza on those days.
In full transparency, I do not miss it. I love my kids. I love that their schools make time for celebrations because I think kids need time to have fun with their peers in school. I’m grateful to their teachers.
But I do not miss the “Oh, crap” moment where I have once again forgotten to get the materials we need for the Valentine’s Day party or the snack for the party. I don’t miss running from party to party and logging in more steps than my Garmin can count. I don’t miss bringing home children hopped up on sugar and red dye 40.
I think at best, I’m probably a mediocre mom. I’m really good at volunteering in their classrooms and teaching their classmates how to read. I’m not so good at organization.
I’m really good at getting my kids on the their virtual schedules and pre-pandemic remembering who had an after school activity.
I’m not so good at remembering to buy school party snacks for a celebration at school. I’m terrible with coming up with costumes and having something ready for the Halloween parade at school. We’ve done a lot of last minute costumes with whatever clothing items we had at home.
Though even at my worst, those costumes were better than the year in elementary school where I wore an incomplete costume because my mom was supposed to sew the clown costume together and didn’t. She insisted it was supposed to look that way (it wasn’t) and I ended up wearing it like one of those sandwich signs open on the sides over my regular clothes.
But maybe my not-so secret dislike for these party “have-tos” is because my mom probably hated them, too.
I often feel guilty when I see the other moms who have their -ish together and they always have the right Valentine’s, remember the snacks, or have an amazing costume put together. So I fumble my way through in my haphazard way hoping my kids don’t notice that I feel like I’m failing at this whole mothering gig.
While I may not be great at remembering the materials and the snacks, I’m totally in my element organizing the snacks, handing them out to the little hands that reach for them while saying, “You get what you get and you don’t get upset,” and then cleaning up when all the other parents have collected their offspring and headed home while my children sit in a corner waiting for me to finish up so that they, too, can collapse in an exhausted heap on the couch.
Thank you pandemic, from saving this usually too harried mom from making another set of classroom Valentine’s that took hours to decorate only to be thrown away by another child’s mom after the festivities are over.
If we don’t make any sudden movements, I think my kids will forget they were supposed to celebrate Valentine’s Day and we can get away with a family movie and a bowl of ice cream. That sounds more fun anyway!