Last year, I gave my family a Valentine Heart Attack.
No, it’s not a reference to my cooking. It’s a thing you do when you “attack” your family with hearts that say why you love them. Not attack like you throw them at your family or accost them with your love sentiments. Instead, you subtly tape them on their doors.
Last year I decided to do it.
Taping hearts to their doors, not throwing things at them while yelling what I love about them.
It took my kids a day or two to start noticing. But, as the days past and the collection on their bedroom doors grew bigger, they began to understand each one had a word that was uniquely them and began to look forward to the next day’s word. I did the same for my husband, who said nothing about the hearts on his bathroom mirror.
I won’t lie. It bothered me a little, but I had to remind myself that this wasn’t for praise or attention. It wasn’t about me; it was about them. Rather than think of him as unappreciative or indifferent, I chose to leave it alone.
And that’s how it was for two weeks. I pasted a new heart for everyone every day.
Then, one afternoon, I walked into the bathroom to find this hanging up by my mirror:
One morning, I went out for a run, and my husband sat the kids down to make Valentine’s drawings for each other. He made this one for me and taped it next to my bathroom mirror.
He hadn’t said anything about my hearts, but he noticed.
He didn’t seem to appreciate those hearts, but he did.
In the throes of the busiest season of life with small kids, it’s easy to forget what brought you and your spouse together. Through the ups and downs of life that consume parents, there remains one constant: we’re always changing. We change as individuals, as parents, as married couples. Sometimes we feel like we’re strangers. Sometimes we feel like best friends. There are times when we feel far apart and times that we seemingly swing back around closely together again.
Through it all, there remains commitment.
The promise to stay.
The promise to love when it’s hard.
The promise to be there when it feels blah.
The promise of remaining love. Even if sometimes love isn’t emotion and is more of a choice.
We all seek the stability and comfort that comes with marriage — the familiarity of trusting and depending on someone exclusively. Putting all we are into someone and giving when they can’t give back — having someone to take from when we can no longer give. Marriage is an uneven balance. When both parties are fully committed, it’s one of the most joy-filled experiences the human heart can have.
It’s been a year since my family had their “heart-attack,” and my husband kept his hearts on his mirror. Their appearance is faded and worn from sunlight and shower steam. They no longer have that vibrant color that new construction paper has. But, the words are still there. The reasons I love him still stand out in bold, black Sharpie.
Almost untouched by the time that has passed.
Those hearts are a lot like us.
I have also kept my Valentine up since last year. Most days, I don’t notice it. Like him, I tend to take the drawing for granted. But it’s there when I need it. It’s always there to remind me that I’m loved, and I’m cared for in the most loyal and committed way.
So, maybe give your family Valentine’s heart attack this year.
It only takes five minutes, and it’s something I’m sure they’ll appreciate it even if they don’t say they do.
It’s much better than throwing things at them.
Or eating my cooking.