One day not long ago I was assigned a task with a difficulty rating of eleventeen and warned not to screw up under any circumstances (death and/or dismemberment excluded). More specifically, a certain resident of this household (who will remain nameless to protect and preserve her privacy) charged me with the responsibility of delivering an extraordinarily important valentine under the veil of complete anonymity—come hell or high water. Needless to say, the pressure to perform was on.
“Now Mom, let’s get this straight. You promise to drive to his house and put this valentine in his mailbox while I’m at school, right?”
“Right. I promise.”
“And no one will see you, right?”
“Nope. No one will see me.”
“And you won’t tell anyone, right?”
“Not a soul. It’s our little secret.”
“Good. Because I don’t want him (i.e. he who will also remain nameless to protect and preserve his privacy) to know that I’m his secret admirer and if I hand it to him at school, he’ll know (Well duh). And if I hand it to his sister, he’ll know. And if I hand it to his teacher, he’ll know. So it has to go in his mailbox. Today. After the mail gets delivered. Okay?”
“Okay. Today. AFTER the mail gets delivered—lest the dear mailman inadvertently stumble upon said nugget of wonderfulness in the great abyss of the mailbox, feast his eyes upon all-that-is-sweet-and-sentimental, ogle its multitude of carefully crafted, penciled-on hearts and feel all warm and fuzzy inside, pondering the delicious possibility of having a secret admirer somewhere in the vicinity. A secret admirer who would, indeed, invest inordinate quantities of time and energy in order to fashion the consummate valentine—one imbued with sweetness and crafted with care.” Not that the mailman in question doesn’t deserve such a valentine or couldn’t actually have a host of secret admirers eager to shower him with sweet-nothings and whatnot. Maybe he does.
At any rate, I completed the aforementioned mission and kept my vow of silence—till now—because, of course, I can’t help but dwell on the notion that some day (no doubt, all too soon) that child of mine will no longer be filled with the innocence and pureness of heart required to orchestrate such a deed. She’ll be far too grown up for such foolishness and it’ll be far too much of a bother to spend so much time painstakingly decorating something for someone who won’t know from whence it came anyway—which saddens me greatly.
“How completely juvenile,” she’ll likely huff at my suggestion of engaging in a little Valentine-ish fun and brightening someone’s day in the process. “That’s baby stuff, Mom. Everyone knows that.” A roll of the eyes and a flip of the hair will no doubt accompany her remarks.
I suppose I can add it to the list of that which no longer thrills my brood (i.e. hugs and kisses in public, lavender-scented lotion after a bath, help with tangles and pronouncing large and unwieldy eighth-graderish words). Soon, I fear, my charges will stop inviting me inside their sprawling blanket forts to read books and to share secrets. Worse yet, they’ll outgrow the desire to build them altogether. And although I can barely tolerate the scourge of disorder said fortresses bring to my home, I’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Likewise, I’ll miss being asked to care for a bevy of stuffed animals while a certain couple of somebodies are away at school. And I’ll rue the day that my van Gogh-inspired progenies no longer insist their prized artwork be displayed on our refrigerator-turned-monstrous-collage—an entity so completely blanketed with bits and fragments of our lives, to know my refrigerator is to know my family.
Regrettably, I can accept what the passage of time may bring; but I don’t have to like it. And I don’t have to let go just yet. Indeed, my youngest charges are decidedly too cumbersome to hold in my lap, yet I still rock them on occasion. I haul them upstairs to bed now and again, and I reach for their tender hands when we go for walks—walks during which they’re too busy catching snowflakes or harvesting stones to notice my hand in theirs, warm and familiar.
I kiss them in the dead of night, too, just because.
Planet Mom: It’s where I live (contemplating matters of the heart on Valentine’s Day and every day).
Copyright 2010 Melinda L. Wentzel