Valentine’s Day – Kids, Candy and Pressure

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, in case you were somehow not aware. My Facebook and Twitter feeds were full of sentiments of love (both heartfelt and snarky) and pictures of gifts sent by husbands and boyfriends. My immediate thought? To wonder if guys now feel more pressure to score awesome gifts because they know there’s a chance their efforts will be blogged/tweeted/Facebooked. I did the same thing, though – Zachary sent me chocolate covered strawberries from Shari’s Berries and I took a photo of them, which I will now blog.

I think having kids takes a bit of the pressure off of Valentine’s Day, though. For right or for wrong, it’s easy to get sucked into the child aspects of the holiday, like getting their Valentines prepared and cutting their sandwiches into heart shapes, and away from worrying about getting the perfect gift for your spouse.

Zachary worked yesterday, the older three kids were at school, and Jonah was at daycare, so for the first time in years (ever?) I spent a large part of Valentine’s Day totally alone. It was both wonderful (I got a lot of work done, like booking at least one hotel room for my upcoming California trip) and strange (being alone in the house with no one to cuddle on Valentine’s Day).

Thanks to the pressure (er, influence?) of Facebook and Pinterest I decided at about 1:00 that I should probably make some treats for the kids. A quick Google search led me to choose cake pops – looked simple enough. I will write more about those another time, but I will just say now – not as simple to coat those things as blog posts make it sound.

Zachary came home during my cake pop fiasco, the kids were wound up, and when we weren’t looking Jonah grabbed a Snickers from Isla’s candy bag and ate 3/4 of it before we noticed. Not a big deal except we’d been told Jonah was allergic to peanuts about half a year ago. Zachary and I were a little concerned, but his first exposure to peanut butter didn’t result in an anaphylactic reaction so I tried not to freak out. Called the insurance company’s nurse line who told us to keep an eye on him. I don’t know what I expected them to tell me, but being told to do something you’re already doing feels so fruitless.

Isla got herself worked up worrying about Jonah and she hid under a blanket on the couch. Jonah got one little hive mark on his face but otherwise was fine. Zachary gave him some Benadryl and we just watched him for the next few hours. Of course, when the hive appeared I overreacted and called our clinic to talk to a nurse again. Who told me the same thing – keep an eye on him. Nurses must LOVE parents like me, who call when there’s no immediate danger.

Because of this fun incident, we didn’t have time to make dinner for the kids, so we turned to leftovers. The kids, of course, weren’t thrilled, and I felt guilty because it seemed wrong to serve them leftovers on Valentine’s Day that they didn’t like the first time around. The cake pops redeemed me, though. Kids aren’t particular; they don’t care if cake pops are ugly or not.

At this point I was absolutely stressed out. I’m sure Zachary was frustrated that everyone in the house was flustered. After half an hour on the treadmill I felt better, though. I put Jonah to bed while Zachary made us a great dinner. The older three kids finally settled down and headed to bed, as well, and only interrupted Zachary and I four times while we tried to eat our Valentine’s Day dinner, which is a success in my book.

This is a a snapshot of Valentine’s Day for working parents with four kids. And no sitter. What could be more perfect, really? You have to see the love in the the life you have, and Valentine’s Day, even with its imperfections, can make you  stop and see the love through the chaos.




  1. Oh, the pressure. Olivia broke down in tears last night at 6:30 because we “forgot” to make heart-shaped cookies. I caved and started frantically searching for a heart cookie cutter (including checking the play-dough supplies). I ended up using a double heart cutter and a teeny tiny heart cutter, googling a no-chill roll-out cookie recipe (not very tasty one, btw) and together made cookies until after 8pm. She then proceeded to keep herself awake in bed until Daddy came home at 10pm so she could show him the card she had made him earlier. They had a very sweet exchange when he came home 🙂

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