a valentine for my daughter

Here you are, 13, waiting for your first surprise bouquet of flowers or even a candygram on this strange holiday. I hear the hope in your voice, see it in your choice of outfit. I want it for you, too. I still want it for myself at times.

For you, I want what I wanted: Someone so giddy with love that he would shout it with every action. I want someone who would gladly take a bullet to keep you safe, let’s be real. I hope to see him looking at you like no other girl ever existed. I want for you to have that one special love that lasts until your last breath.

I know I often say that the bad moments are lessons, making you strong and shaping your character. Honestly, if I could I would pave your way to forever happiness without thinking once about how heartaches and anger and false friends make you somehow better. I would have you wrapped up in a bubble of perfection along with that special person. If he’s worthy of you, I would create that world for him, too. What mother wouldn’t?

Romance is tricky, though. In the beginning it’s heady stuff, full of kisses and surprises. Life starts to push its way in, though. Bills and cleaning and laundry and work…it makes you wonder how you ever fit in the romantic bits. Pick someone who will jump at any opportunity to find a way, please. Goofy holiday? He’s on it with the cheesiest of commercial gifts. Three-day weekend? Of course he’s planned a drive somewhere you’ve never been together. No money? He’s written you sweet love notes and tucked them into your jacket and shoes. He won’t miss a chance.

Don’t look the other way on this, baby girl, that person is out there. Don’t make the mistakes I’ve made. You deserve someone who looks at you like you’re a piece of cake, someone who dreams about you, and is proud to hold your hand. He won’t need to be cool in front of his friends; he’ll need you to know that you’re cherished.

I promise that he’ll be worth whatever wait it takes.

[Edit: When I wrote this, the shooting in Parkland hadn’t happened yet. I wrestled with deleting the “gladly take a bullet” piece after rereading this post, then decided to keep it in. It happened, and we as a nation need to figure out how to stop any more from happening. The fact is that I wrote it as a figure of speech and then, hours later, students were gunned down. Kids who should’ve been gossiping about who received flowers from so-and-so were killed, never to see their friends and family again.]

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