(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.