Valentine's Day is a lot like Mother's Day – it's an artificially manufactured commercial 'holiday' that is supposed to cater to women's fantasies but somehow always ends up just making more work for us. Sure, there's a four-course breakfast in bed, made by the kids, but who do you think ends up doing the dishes?
Same with Valentine's Day. To get the best Valentine's Day gifts for yourself, you have to get them yourself. And as a midlife woman, post-divorce, not quite ready for dating, I'm looking at V-Day with fresh eyes. There's a whole lotta love in my life. Why not celebrate that?
V-Day: Single, Girlfriend, Wife, Mother, Divorced, Mother, Single, Self
I've done a lot of Valentine's Days as a significant other and then wife, then as a wife and mother, then as an ex-wife, still a mother. Today I fully embrace the V-Day as a post-divorce, single midlife mom –a particularly challenging sub-species of all the categories of folks facing this day.
In the end, I find it's a similar experience as when married, when I'd so trained my wasband not to waste money on flowers, he'd just let me make the dinner reservations and then we'd go pick up the gift I chose for myself. This Valentine's Day, I let my beloved wasband take me out for coffee where we patted ourselves on the back about the stellar report we got at parent-teacher conferences. That counts as a celebration of love to me!
What's the best Valentine's Day gift of all?
So how about we ignore the societal pressure to have wild hot sex while covered in chocolate, and, instead, celebrate our real lives, our real sensuality, our actual bodies and the love that genuinely surrounds us every day.
Celebrate the true loves in your life
Strip away the manufactured, self-imposed pressure to perform whatever artificial version of the day you envision and think about what you really want to celebrate about the loves in your life today. How do we celebrate our true loves as women, mothers in midlife?
Self-Compassion and Care
That's right. Taking care of ourselves is an excellent way to celebrate Valentine's Day. It's the best gift ever! Get a massage. A mani-pedi. A makeover. Buy some fabulous outfit or pair of boots you'd normally never consider. Blow some cash and time optimism on YOU!!
Our true life-loves: Our Children
Make your kids spend time with you and tell you why they adore you as their mom. Seriously. Make them list stuff they love about you. Pit them against each other to see who wins. Do whatever it takes to sit down with them, share a meal, a movie, a game, a day trip. I may drag my daughter to the planetarium tonight JUST BECAUSE I CAN! And it would be a super fun way to celebrate this day in a genuinely loving way.
Show some love for your BFFS
By this time in our lives, women in midlife, we've all got our pack, our team, our posse of best women friends. If you're me, most of your best pals have been on your team since the dawn of time – like, since middle school. And they know you and you know them and they know just how to celebrate you. For example, for my birthday last week, my best friends and their kids all gathered for a tea party in my honor. They all took magic markers and wrote descriptions of my best qualities on balloons. It was THE BEST GIFT EVER. You have no idea what it's like to see a parade of reasons people love you.
Gathering with your friends to treat yourselves to whatever – even just that rare time to talk alone – is a gigantic and excellent gift. Give it to yourself!
To all the single women on V-Day
So that's my best Valentine's Day advice for those of us not currently entangled romantically – or even if you are currently tangled romantically – you need some you-time, too!
In the end, chocolate is always the answer, whatever the question, of course.
Whatever you do, celebrate all the true loves in your life today and every day.
Read more on how midlife moms can take care of ourselves: