in his valentine's day best, day one

in his valentine’s day best, day one


leven short years ago, when I was enormously pregnant with Marcel, my obstetrician told me that she believed it to be in everyone’s best interest – mine, my baby’s and, probably hers, now that I think about it – if I were induced.

He looks big, she told me gravely after eyeballing the latest ultrasound. Really big. Let’s get him out of there. Like I was a smoking car wreck and my baby had to be wrested from the dangerous remains of the vehicle in which he had been tooling around for nine months.

But I digress.

The upside to the scheduled induction was that my trusted physician could be a part of the labor and delivery process, no small concern to this first-time mama, and all I wanted to know was where I needed to sign.

“When can we do it?” I wanted to know.

“I’m on all next week,” she said.

I mentally flipped through the week ahead and gasped.

“Valentine’s Day!” I practically yelled in her face. “Can we do it on Valentine’s Day?”

We could and we did. And after all of that, it turned out that Marcel wasn’t that big, after all. Weighing in at a perfectly reasonable 7 pounds, 11 ounces, he was none the larger for all of those Apple Pan burgers I loved on a weekly basis on Los Angeles’ Westside.

What I could not appreciate then as mother to a single, sleeping bug who, along with all of the other V-Day arrivals, was treated to a red stocking cap in their little baby-warming, roll-away boxes, was what celebrating the birthday of a Valentine’s Day arrival would look like just five years later. When there was preschool. And siblings.

There is a birthday cake to acquire, certainly; presents to secure, yes. But there are the holiday’s

demands as well, now institutionalized by the schools The Three have attended. There are classroom parties (for the other two), crappy, pre-made Valentine’s cards to buy (three boxes minimum, because I am not crafty and so The Three do not make their own) and some societal pressure to weather in regard to what Scott and I might be doing to remember our commitment to one another on this, the Sweetheart’s Holiday.

Well, don’t even ask about that last thing because we simply don’t remember each other on Valentine’s Day. We’re too busy remembering everything else.

Like who’s going to pick up the doughnuts that will go into class with Marcel so that his friends can be a part of the birthday madness (it’s always me). Or who ordered which gift (both of us). And who is going to work out the clues for the now-annual Marcel birthday gift scavenger hunt (always Scott).

I remember loving Valentine’s Day when I was little. Making those envelopes in class – usually with a paper plate, you know what I’m talking about – and then, later, pulling all of the Valentine’s Day love out of that envelope in all of the many shades of red in which it had been delivered. Now I am the mother who finds herself gently interrogating a first grade teacher about whether or not the class absolutely must exchange those little Valentine’s Day cards again this year.

“Valentine’s Day is still a pretty big deal at first grade,” she reminded me quietly.

Well, of course it is.

And I don’t have any interest in being the harried harridan who sucked the love out of the Valentine’s Day festivities. So I’m off now to acquire construction paper and a new attitude – because maybe just the act of trying to make some Valentine’s cards that aren’t so crappy will cheer me up. Also on the list: cookies for yet another birthday commemoration for Marcel tomorrow – the third in as many days – because, really, you can never have enough parties.

So happy birthday, Marcel, our Valentine’s Day baby. Your arrival may make this Hallmark holiday a little more hectic, but you’ve made our lives bloom bright every day since you joined our party. Merci.