Some stories are long.
They make for long posts.
Some stories feel long.
And they are so exhausting that they make for short posts.
This one is the latter.
I have written so much about Valentine’s Day over the years;
Last year’s post was particularly fun (and reminds me of a fabulous manicure);
Not so much.
This year, I spent Valentine’s day in the hospital with my little boy.
Let me say this: My son is fine. My kids were both sick last week (which is a whole other story entirely, as it thwarted a trip, among many other things).
But, my son needed extra care.
And so, he had to be hospitalized.
That was hard. But, not as hard as it was to be back in the ward where I spent the one of the hardest weeks of my life (as shared in “The Hardest Post I Have Ever Written”, which was when I came out with my story of postpartum depression, 2 years ago).
This year, I had Valentine’s Day dinner with my daughter, in the hospital cafeteria, while my son was being given IV fluids in the ER before being admitted.
This year, she and I said “cheers” as we clinked our drinks (hers a bottle of orange juice and mine a fountain soda) and we said, “Happy Valentine’s Day”, our voices tired and our spirits weary.
This year, I spent Valentine’s night alone in my bed, as my husband stayed over in the hospital with my son.
The morning after Valentine’s Day, my daughter and I woke up early. I hauled the trash cans down to the end of my driveway, threw on sweats and we drove, in the snow, to the hospital to be with our boy.
I got into bed with him and, for once, my giant toddler seemed so small.
He slept in the bed with me, sucking his little thumb, as he recovered from a nasty stomach bug.
And when I left for a few hours, I heard him say, “I want mama!” as I walked down the hall.
My heart, my Valentine’s heart, shattered into a million pieces.
I don’t express this a lot on here–it is something that makes me feel very vulnerable–but I have a lot of guilt when it comes to my son.
I am not the same mother to him that I was to my daughter.
In some ways this is good, I guess. I am older now. Wiser. More confident and calm.
But in my darker moments I get these pangs of sadness.
And it isn’t just the normal “he is the second child” stuff.
It’s the harder stuff.
It’s the fact that I wasn’t there for parts of his infancy; sometimes mentally, and other times, physically.
It is that I had to wean him after 10 weeks when I nursed my daughter for 18 months.
It is that he has seen a darker side of me than she ever saw, because that dark side didn’t used to exist.
But, still, when I left the hospital room that day, the day after our Valentine’s Day that wasn’t, he still wanted me.
I am still his mama.
And perhaps my feelings of guilt are misplaced or unfounded.
I sure hope so.
I know that Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that can polarize people. Some people love it and others think it is a manufactured “Hallmark holiday”. For those in love it can be heavenly, and for those who are alone it can be miserable.
But, for me, it is just another day during which we can celebrate love.
And so, this year, while it wasn’t the day we had planned, our little family did just that.
We rallied together in a time of need.
We all cuddled up in pajamas and a small hospital room.
We held hands and each other and ate hospital pudding for dessert.
And my son wanted his mama.
And if that isn’t love, then I don’t know what is.