On Valentine's and the Village We Might Aspire to Make

Here’s a Valentine’s Day recap: to begin, as is true most years, the dear husband—my funny Valentine—isn’t mine on the day. Almost always the hearts coincide with the California Antiquarian Book Fair. That’s his gig, selling old and rare books, so off he goes to do just that. He also sees friends, goes out to dinner, and doesn’t deal with bedtime. It’s safe to say this trip does not bring out my most loving feelings.

So it goes.

But he left a card—with a filled out GoBerry card tucked inside—at my yoga class so I was surprised with a “be mine” message a day early! Well played sweet and guilty husband. I was completely touched.

I’d made him a card (at my friend Colette’s store, Essentials, there’d been a Valentine craft night, which was super fun—I’d call it Ladies’ Night, with scissors and two teenage boys, mine, visiting). I tried to do something nice for each child. I tucked cards I made quickly while on lunch-prep duty for the two smaller kids. I cut hearts from cardstock. The one piece I grabbed was orange, but hey, that’s close enough. I shocked myself by that “mom” touch. Remy got a small candy in the lunch, too. Later, I got him a yo-yo case. I brought a cupcake home for one teen and arranged it so I could watch an episode of Homeland with the other. We have a few to go and are on edge and obsessed.

This was the year that Valentine’s “clicked” for the smallest girl. All the kids brought in Valentine’s and stuffed them in paper bag “mailboxes” of sorts and many kids wore red and it was just… abuzz with love and hearts.

Her due date was that day (she came early) and so I still think of her as our little Valentine. One thing that adoption makes people think about is what’s missed. A set of photos went viral; they were newborn photo shoot poses taken by an adoptive mom to an older boy. She’s a photographer and the session began as a joke, but hit a chord, that so-much-is-missed and love-is-enough chord. The photos were sweet, because the love came through. So many kids who’ve been in foster care will never—can never—get to the place of such lightness about what was missed, even for a few Kodak moments (or Instagram ones). So many kids in foster care never get out, and so there’s not even the opportunity to repair. I wrote about foster care for the Broad Side—a response of sorts to those photographs. My wish is that every child feels loved. That’d be a pretty fabulous Valentine to our village.

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Author: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser's work has appeared on the New York Times, Salon, and the Manifest Station amongst other places. Find her on Twitter @standshadows

Share This Post On

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up for our daily newsletter!

You don't want to be left out, do you?

Sign up!

You have Successfully Subscribed!