This will be the second year I spend Valentine’s Day as a widow. How’s that for a downer?
I lost my husband suddenly in October 2017. Since then, my kids and I have had to navigate holidays and birthdays and special occasions with caution.
We never really know from one special day to the next how we will react.
Will we be sad?
Will we feel okay?
Will I need copious amounts of wine and chocolate (yes, please)?
So here I am on the cusp of Valentine’s Day as a widowed single mom and I bet you’re wondering if I’m crying in my pinot.
Before you start to feel sorry for me, let me let you in on a little secret.
I’ve always hated Valentine’s Day.
Even when my husband was alive, we made a conscious effort not to celebrate it. I
t’s not that we didn’t love each other or enjoy doing romantic, ooey-gooey, lovey-dovey stuff together.
It’s more that we couldn’t understand why Hallmark and Russell Stover decided we were required to do it on a very specific day and only once a year.
For my husband and I, we would much rather do something special on a random Tuesday in May than conform to the consumer-driven madness of a made-up holiday.
So we chose to ignore the whole debacle (except for that one time I couldn’t resist getting him that funny card about there being a party in my pants…how could I not give that to him?).
Of course, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with celebrating Valentine’s Day.
If it’s your favorite holiday and you and your sweetie go all out, go for it! You do you, mama! But it’s just not a big deal to me and never really has been.
Since becoming a widow, I have been on a pretty intense journey of self-rediscovery. Losing your spouse at such a young age does a real number on your identity.
Not only do you lose the person you thought you’d grow old with, you also lose a significant part of how you identify with yourself, the people around you, the world as you used to know it.
I have had to learn who I am again; I am no longer a wife, no longer part of a couple, no longer half of a parenting team.
Many parts of me and how I relate to the world around me has so fundamentally shifted that even I have a hard time recognizing the woman I have become. And am still becoming.
But the growth that I have seen in myself is, quite frankly, incredible.
In the past two years, not only have I figured out how to survive without my wonderful husband, I have learned how to thrive.
None of it has been easy, though.
Every step of the way, I have had to lean on my faith, my family, and my friends. And I have had to allow myself to indulge in regular self-care, something that I rarely did before I became a widow. I have to say, learning how to make myself a priority has made a world of difference in my healing journey.
So starting this Valentine’s Day, I am choosing to make it a holiday that celebrates ME.
I want to shift the focus of the day from glorifying forced romance, cheap chocolate, and overpriced dinners to celebrating the beautiful, strong, courageous, fearless, perseverant, and capable woman I am continuing to get to know. My day will be filled with things that encourage self-care and self-love. Because I deserve it.
And so do you.
You don’t have to suffer a devastating loss to make yourself a priority.
In fact, I hope and pray that you don’t.
But I do want to reassure you, mamas, that you deserve just as much self-care as I do.
Are you doing that for yourself?
Or are you putting everyone and everything else first on your priority list and letting yourself get drained?
If so, I want to encourage you to give yourself the gift of a little “me time” this Valentine’s Day.
Go to the spa. Read a book. Take a long, hot bubble bath. Go drink some wine with other mom friends who need some time away. Take a day to do some window shopping. Whatever it is that give you peace and joy or helps you to relax, go do it!
Self-care is not selfish. Self-care is absolutely necessary. Practicing it regularly will ultimately make you a better wife or partner, a better mom, and a better friend. And we all know that when mama is happy, everybody else is happy, right?