Well, it’s a fair bit past the first of the month, but better late than never! Today is Valentine’s Day, which I’ve spent as a single mum for the last couple of years, and while many single people feel unloved on this day, I have to say that doing heart-shaped crafts with my favourite little Valentine today has been the most incredible Valentine’s Day so far, and I have never felt so much love.
1. The many loves of my life.
Today is a celebration of love, and there are so many wonderful people that I love in my life. From my wonderful, kind and supportive Mum (who bought me flowers this Valentine’s Day!) and Dad, my sweet little peanut, and all of my amazing friends both new and old (and life-long!); I’d give you all Valentine’s bikkies if me and Tasha weren’t planning on eating them all in a messy sugary rampage.
2. My lovely city.
TBH, I really didn’t like Perth much when I was growing up. It was quiet, the shops closed at 5 and there was no Sunday shopping (for a teenaged girl, this was pretty much “the horror, the horror!”) I ended up travelling quite a bit around the world, to some of the biggest and brightest cities, and some of the furthest-away places. While I was away, Perth changed a lot, and actually, so did I.
There’s plenty to see and do here now; we’re in the middle of Fringeworld, which is Perth’s biggest festival, and the city is awash with fun and circus-y things and just general awesomeness: the CBD currently looks and feels a bit like a scene from Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, much to my delight (and Tasha’s too).
Perth is going to be a very fun place for Tasha to grow up in, but actually, she’s also shown me a side of my hometown that I never really noticed growing up.
Perth is beautiful. Parks abound, I have pristine and postcard-perfect beaches just a stroll away, and to see jaw-droppingly gorgeous wildflowers I basically just have to leave the house. I had awful hayfever as a child so never got to appreciate them before, but as I grew out of it, and gradually became more interested in scenery than shopping, I’ve realized how much beauty there is even in my backyard.
Having a child means seeing the world through new eyes, and when I see her delight as she feels the grass under her toes, or spots kangaroos in the bush, suddenly I can’t imagine being anywhere but home.
A very wise woman I know recently told me something that really resonated with me: that she’d met so many women in her life who thought that without someone to love, they weren’t whole, that they were alone and needed to seek someone to complete them. That you need to learn to love yourself first, be happy with who you are, and then maybe find someone who makes your life even better than it already is, or not, because a relationship is not actually a need.
I’m happy with who I am, and I have nothing to prove. I’m proud of myself, not only for being the best mummy that I can, and for the quantifiable things that I’ve achieved, but also for the strong woman that I’ve become.
For the complex intangible web of things that make me who I am, and the way that the person who I am has grown and continues to grow.
4. Love for my daughter.
The love that one has for a child is extraordinary: without any selfishness, with only compassion and empathy, as you nurture a growing little person as their personality unfolds more and more every day, as they change and blossom under your care. At first, that little person relies on you not only for care and love, but their very survival, and the bond between a parent and a child is the most pure and beautiful thing in the world.
A few months ago, I was at a Chanukah event with my parents and Natasha. The officiating rabbi has grown his family by a newborn son just the day before, and the speech he gave about family brought tears to my eyes. I’m rephrasing here, but as I recall, he made the analogy of how the Chanukah candles are never used for household tasks, but rather they are looked at, and that in this same way, a parent looks at a child, and does not use a child. You watch them grow, with joy and pride. It is a selfless love, and most importantly, it’s not about you.
I am one lucky mama to have such an amazing kid, and I’m just glad to be along for the ride!
It’s not about Hallmark cards or filling a void. It’s about connection. For the most part, human beings are pro-social creatures. We’ll do amazing things for each other.
Think of Shavarsh Karapetyan, the heroic swimming champion who saved 20 people who were drowning in a sinking bus, who carried on pulling people out right until he lost consciousness himself. Looking back on his life, what is he most proud of? The 11 times that he broke world records (quite an extraordinary feat in itself), or the lives he saved, their children and their children’s children who could come into this world because of his bravery?
Yes, human history is littered with examples of people who’ve chosen hate over love, but what really resonates with me is the people who have chosen love over hate. Both potentials exist in every one of us, and we’ll probably all feel a bit of both in our lives, but like the Cherokee parable Tale of the Two Wolves, in the end it’s all about which wolf you feed.
Instead of railing at the darkness, I am grateful for the chance to bring light.