Not feeling the love this Valentine’s Day? Single parent Marina Mathews drops some major wisdom, and shares a wonderful idea that will brighten every family’s holiday
A few weeks ago when we started to put our annual crop of Valentine’s Day content, we received feedback from one of our readers, a single parent, who was feeling just a bit sick of the holiday. Rather than focusing simply on gifts, dinners for two, or chocolates (though is there ever a bad time for chocolate?), she wondered, perhaps we could look at Valentine’s Day from an angle of self-care, or its impact on parent-child relationships? We immediately turned to one of the most fabulous women we know, single mama Marina Mathews, to get her thoughts on the holiday. Read on for a truly heartwarming approach that we daresay every mama might want to imitate…
It’s that dreaded time of year again where the price of flowers sky-rocket, and Hallmark makes a killing. A time when deep inside, I secretly hope that a bunch of big, beautiful flowers will turn up at my doorstep. Or I find a handwritten note in my letter box from a secret admirer.
It’s also a time when reality slaps me in the face and says “Wake up! You’re single, lady!” Yep. A singleton’s beloved Valentine’s Day.
As a single parent for more than a few years, I’ve decided this year I’m going to make a change. A change from obsessing over the unchangeable, to instead obsessing on how I’m going to teach my kids the meaning of true love.
As adults we all know it’s not about gifting expensive jewellery or sending gimmicky cards (though I’d never be ungrateful for either), but rather how we treat ourselves with the love and care that we deserve. And as a mother of two young boys, I’ve been grappling with how I could do this best. Do I take the day off to treat myself? I can hear that spa calling my name. Or do I try and explain it to the kids in a way they could understand? Who am I kidding? They’re 5 and 8 years old.
So, I’ve decided to take another route. This eve of Valentine’s Day I’m going to start a new tradition. A tradition that involves a ream of red art paper, a stack of marker pens, and three pairs of scissors, inspired by a dear girlfriend (also a single parent!) who happens to be a talented artist.
Said girlfriend decided to navigate her way through divorce and the loss of a parent around the same time (sadly, I’d experienced this too) by creating a colouring book of affirmations designed for both kids and adults. If this could work in the day-to-day world, why not do something similar with the kids for V-Day?
We play a lot of board games in our house, but this is one we’re going to be making ourselves. To make it easy and fun, all the boys will have to do is cut out 20 large heart-shaped cards each, and split them into two piles of 10 (one for their sibling, one for me) because on the back of each one they’ll write something that they love about the other person.
For example, I might write for Sebastian “You are really kind” or for Samuel “You tell funny jokes.” You get the picture. The catch is that we can’t show them to each other, and instead have to place the stack of 10 under the person’s pillow.
Come Valentine’s Day morning, over breakfast and blasting fun music, we’ll take turns reading each of our 20 cards and the compliments.
To top off the special day we’ll get together again after school and spend time sticking our Valentine’s Day love hearts onto a homemade wall poster that we can frame and hang on the wall by their beds. All with the hope that whenever they’re feeling low in the future, they can simply look at all the positive energy and love pouring from those red hearts.
As for me, who says Champagne and chocolates will impress, when I’ll have a permanent reminder of our meaning of true love. Until next year.