A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

The Valentine Card Conundrum

(Originally published 2/10/11.)

What is it about Valentine’s Day that makes me feel such an urgent need to overcompensate for all my shortcomings as a wife and mother?

Perhaps you’ll recall the time I made a Valentine Tree, hand crocheted heart ornaments, and a vulva shaped coin purse? I think it started a few years back when my oldest child was in Montessori school. Oh, those were some rough years for a mom like me.

In my grossly generalizing approach to life, the mothers who choose the Montessori way usually fit into one of three categories:

1.) “Mother Superiors,” aka Über Moms, who are fiercely competitive “Type A” women on a mission to forcefully mold their kids into the future leaders of the free world.

2.) Hippie Moms who really dig the student centered Montessori philosophy and want their kids to have lots of freedom to work at their own pace and choose their own groovy work each day.

3.) Slacker Moms who are terrified of how their kids are going to turn out unless they shell out the big bucks for top notch private education to make up for the lack of intellectual stimulation at home.

Guess which one I am? Or was, rather. My youngest, Bucket Head, doesn’t go to Montessori school. Which is probably why he wears underwear on his head and enjoys “Shart Frackers and Douche Bags for ‘nack.”


Valentine’s Day always gives me horrible flashbacks of that first year at the Montessori school when I made the hideous mistake of sending in cheap-dime-store-made-in-Taiwan-with-lead-based-ink-cards featuring licensed Bob the Builder characters and actual CANDY containing gluten, peanuts, and red dye #40 taped to them. Oh, the shame.

When Nature Boy got home that afternoon, he tore open his beautifully decorated bag of “Valentimes” and there on the table were 15 adorable homemade Valentines and ONE tacky Bob-the-Builder “Put it there, Bob” Valentine/candy combo pack.

And of those 15 homemade Valentines, most of them included very special “I made these with my Mommy!” non-edible treats like heart-shaped crayons made from recycled crayon bits lovingly melted in antique collectible candy molds, or little red and pink pompom critters waving a paper plea to “Be Mine!”

I’m totally not exaggerating. Montessori Moms play to win. I probably should have known that by the large number of “ALTA Tennis Champ!” magnets on all the Hummers in the parking lot, but I was too focused on getting to school on time and getting the hell out of there before someone asked me to volunteer for something.

Yep. Those Martha Stewarty Valentines Day cards were a real slap to the rubber parts. So I made a mental note that Valentines Day is obviously more about the earning or losing Mommy Points and not really at all about the expression of preschool love. And, I vowed that I would never put myself or my poor children in that situation again.

So last year, on Valentine’s Day, when Bucket Head was attending his first year of non-Montessori preschool, I made sure we were ready to show those other moms how it was done. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present exhibit A:

Bucket Head's Homemade Butterfly Valentines, 2010.

Ta-DOW! Oh yeah baby. That’s what I’m talking ’bout.

Not only were they cute, but my toddler totally got to participate in most of the process. See those polka-dots? Bingo markers! And threading the pony beads onto the pipe cleaners? Holy hand-eye coordination practice, Batman! Sure, he got bored after making three of these, but the point is, we made them ourselves for pennies on the dollar!

Bigger picture: I was about to exchange my World’s Worst Montessori Mom crown for a World’s Best Non-Montessori Preschool Mom crown.

(Insert sound of screeching tires here.)

Not so fast, Grasshoppah.

Wouldn’t you know it, when Bucket Head brought his bag of Valentines home that afternoon, his butterfly card was the ONLY handmade card in the bag! And the butt loads of candy? For a second there, I thought I had accidentally enrolled my child in a Toddlers & Tiaras style beauty pageant.

I can just imagine those other mothers looking at our butterfly cards and thinking, “Aw, how sad. Little Bucket Head couldn’t afford real Valentines!” or “Well, lookie here. Bucket Head’s mom has an inferiority complex. Bless her heart. Let’s pray for her. Honey, bring Mama the fam’ly Bible coozy.”

Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t. And some people wonder why I drink.

One of these days, I’mma figure it out, and when I do? LOOK OUT, BITCHES.


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.


  1. Emfine

    I just bought Phineas and Ferb tattoo valentines – per my little Diva’s request. I ‘m just happy that I am so many days ahead of the game.

    Once again, thanks for the Laugh. Oh ! LOVED the use of the glass bowl. Mine now resides on the counter – available in a hurray.

    You are teaching me so much Iris!


    • The Bearded Iris

      Girl – you need to put a Dome of Doggie Despair over your economy sized box of raisins! Have I taught you nothing? 🙂

    • Lady Estrogen

      Wait. Can I get Phineas and Ferb tattoos too?
      Forget my kids, yo! GIMMIE.

  2. Kristen K.

    GET OUT OF MY HEAD! And Stop peeking in my windows. Valentine’s Day always makes me stock up on red glitter, heart shaped stamps, and doilies…. and know what happens? They end up in a box to be used NEXT year.

    OH- and my 4 year old has a big collection of heart shaped crayons….and he HATES coloring.

  3. Mama Cloud

    Agreed and Agreed…I made my own version of these with hershey kisses for Pip’s entire preschool class…


    UGH, the things we do!!!
    P.S. now would be just about that time to organize your netflix queue in time for your highly anticipated valentines day!!!

    • The Bearded Iris

      OMG, thank you for the reminder! And thank goodness for the Netflix streaming on demand… so good for gals like me who aren’t very good at planning ahead. Maybe I’ll make him watch Amelie!

  4. KC

    I’m not from your part of the world but here VD is not something you share with a bunch of preschoolers.

  5. dizzydesi

    HaaaHaaa…Slacker mom, here! I could not give a crap about Valentine’s Day. They pick out which box they like, they do it, not entirely legible items are distributed. Done! Mother Superiors and Hippie Moms are not on my “I care what you think” radar. It is amusing to see how they spend their days, though.

  6. GatorGirl

    My oldest preschooler is giving out store bought Cars Valentine’s Day cards and candy. Although I’ve already eaten all the Kit Kats and Reese’s leaving the kids with plain Hershey bars. But I digress… My youngest preschooler is giving out the butterfly with a lollipop similar to what you did. I happeneded to be at Trader Joe’s and randomly picked up dye free “healthy lollipops”. Guess I’m going for the Über mom/ slacker mom combo this year. Best of both worlds!

  7. Allysgrandma

    Omgosh….the hilarity of motherhood….you share it so well. I finally had the money with #3 daughter to go check out the local Montesorri school. All the kids were running around with one particular being rather aggressive towards others and the teachers being so calm. Wouldn’t you rather color than hit little Annie?? NO HE WOULD NOT! I took one look and got out fast!

    Since I have ADD, I figured my child needed a little more um….structure? Lord knows I need it.

    PS Getting my valentine package off today but first need to make Ally a black polka dot on pink tafetta skirt to match the Gwen Stefani black shirt with pink frills I picked up on sale at Target’! Love to all!

  8. Ali

    Those are awesome! I’m sending Pinteresty ones into public school this year. I’m the only mom with a job and can’t go to into class to volunteer. But I’ll be damned if those bitches will outValentine me.

  9. Kate

    I wanted to just buy the VD cards and get them over. My daughter came home from school and asked to make all her cards. Crappy mom that I am? Sure. Here’s some paper. Have at it. i didn’t help her. She wanted to do it her own way, and I had flashbacks of my mom taking over everything I tried to do as a kid (“But it will look so much nicer if you let me do it MY way, Sweetie.” Fuck you, Mom.) So, I let her do it. She put time and thought into it, and he’s so independent that she won’t give a rat’s ass if he kids don’t like them. Lazy son… I’ll be buying his the night before and reminding him to write them out before school. Whatever. We’ll make it through. Oh, and I totally love the Phineas & Ferb cads, but I’ll probably get there so late that the lame ones will be left.

  10. Leighann

    Good luck to you this year.
    I’d send him with a bag full of tootsie rolls and let them fight it out.

  11. Stacey H.

    Ya just. can’t. win. EVAH! It’s a crap shoot every time. I no longer worry about the parents, but what makes my child happy and proud. It unfortunately involves a buttload of the color pink and candy. Other than that…who cares!

  12. Connie Weiss

    I guess it’s a good thing my kid is repeating Kindergarten next year because I’m about to FAIL Valentine’s Day.

  13. Lea

    LAWS GIRL!!!! You should be a homeschool mom! Talk about overachieving, hippy, granola VD shiz. Sheesh! Imagine a mailbox full of homemade Valentine Cards on paper made by hand from dryer lint with a tasty roll of creosote looking backyard cured organic fruit roll-ups attached. GAH!!!! We applaud the creativity and effort then go buy our own candy- someone’s gotta represent the Slacker Mom homeschool crew. Besides, that 70% off candy ain’t gonna eat itself!

  14. Megan at declutterdaily

    Why so much candy? Right? I think those mom’s who send in goodie bags are just cleaning out the leftover christmas/ birthday pinata crap!

  15. By Word of Mouth Musings

    You just caused horrible flashbacks of Militant Martha, the one my husband described as a Militia Montesorri Bitch … ack.
    More coffee now ….

  16. Jena

    The first Valentine’s day my first child had at school, I tried being one of those uber mom’s….I actually had m&m’s in purple and pink with a picture of him printed on them. Since that time….it’s been down hill. Last year, my husband were out of town on V-day and I completely forgot to send ANYTHING to school with both of my preschoolers! What a slacker I’ve become!!! This year….??? Wish me luck!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh God, that happened to me one year too! Valentine’s Day was on a Sunday and the teacher decided to celebrate it on the Friday before. I hadn’t checked my email though so I didn’t know and my poor child had no cards to give out. I had to totally go whole hog the following Monday and send in something ridiculous like a giant heart shaped cake for my preschooler to jump out of. Thanks for reminding me; I had blocked that out until just now 😉

  17. Annette

    Iris, do us all a favor and never figure it out. That’s why TBI is a Top Mommy Blog and so dern funny!
    <3<3 Happy less than 3 Day!

  18. Denise P.

    Oh thank you thank you thank you. I have chuckled so many times during the reading of this (and your lice series) that my 3.5 progeny keeps asking what is funny. There are always so many hidden mommy competitions. At Christmas I sent in pencils for the goody bags at Preschool (we had just started there at the start of Dec.). When my dear little one came home and shared the goody bag items there were gift cards and small toys and homemade cookies, and a silly cheap pencil from the grocery store. Silly mama. Luckily I am not phased for long but I must say I am a bit nervous about this whole valentine thingy. Your post just helped me put it all into perspective.

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