When I was growing up, I lived on 18 acres in the country and we had a creek that ran through the woods…..that was definitely pretty cool….but I must say a major childhood disappointment of mine is that I never did get the horse that I longed for when we moved from the city to the country when I was in grade school. Back then, I subscribed to Horse Illustrated, wanted an Arabian (one of the most beautiful horses, in my opinion), and I loved Black Beauty and the Black Stallion. We also had a tree house which was neat….and then of course I also thought it was fun to build a fort with couch cushions and blankets. But, here I am digressing…and if you are wondering what building forts (with couch cushions or otherwise) has to do with being on the eve of Valentine’s Day….well, then I guess you will have to bear with me. Don’t forts and Valentine’s Day go hand in hand? I have always thought so. Just kidding!
Seriously, I think the reason I used to build forts out of couch cushions was because I was attempting to be safe and secure when my world had sort of fallen apart. I think I wanted to “hide”(important side note: what concerns me is that sometimes I still see this tendency in myself, to hide, and that is something that I am attempting to break out of). So, my parent’s divorced when I was five, and one of my earliest childhood memories was waking up to my parent’s in a huge fight and sitting on opposite ends of the family couch….and then my Dad leaving with his suitcase in hand the next day. Honestly, every child longs to know they are loved and to know they have a family that they can lean on through thick and thin. Divorce makes the security of a family unstable, i.e. that when the going gets hard, your family falls apart and marriage vows get thrown out the window. When my Dad left our family, it was really sad. I think for me it was like no longer having a security net. It did not help that my Mom would constantly bad-mouth my Dad, and sometimes it seemed like I was the ping-pong ball going back and forth between them. Add in having to deal with family conflicts related to holidays and the added challenges of step-parents and you have a lot for a child to emotionally process, especially at a formative young age.
As you may suspect, my parent’s divorce PROFOUNDLY shaped my life and my childhood. Sometimes, even today, it is really hard for me to imagine what it is actually like for someone to have 2 parents who are actually married, stay together, and are happy. I wonder what it is like to not have to be a human ping-pong ball between 2 households? I wonder what it is like to be a “functional family?” Does anyone even know? You only ever hear of “dysfunctional” families. Personally, I think we need to talk more about family strengths and about the “functional” family. I desire to know more about families where marriages thrive and are beautiful, healthy, and whole. Since my family on both sides has a fair number of divorces and broken hearts, I eventually realized that I needed to cognitively search out marriages that I admired, which would give me hope and inspiration. This was a good idea, and I think helped me to fill in the gaps, so to speak, in order to encourage me in my views of marriage and enabled me to have a more positive, healthy mindset (not a fear-based one….which can be hard sometimes, if I am being real).
Finally, being on the Eve of Valentine’s Day makes me think of love and joy and marriage. I am not trying to be a “downer” with this post, and I know that it is nowhere near a typical Valentine’s Day post. I do want to mention that Valentine’s Day is a beautiful time to express the sweet appreciation that married couples and dating couples should be showing to each other all year round. It is so important to not take one another for granted….every day is a special, amazing gift….and kind words like “I love you”, “I appreciate you”, or “you make me smile” may just be what a spouse or significant other is longing to hear. Some people also enjoy gifts, such as flowers, chocolates , or Teddy bears. Valentine’s Day is also a good day for children to know how much they are loved by their parents and other people in their lives. Essentially, while some individuals are jaded about Valentine’s Day, perhaps due to bitter break-ups and various hurts, and others lament about it being a “Hallmark holiday”, I believe that Valentine’s Day is a nice time for kind words, love, and appreciation. May all who read this know they are loved and cared about. Happy Valentine’s Day!!!!!