Valentine’s Day: A Solo Mom’s Way
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Love is worth the wait
I have an imposter complex. I’m not sure if it’s an actual “condition,” but I’ve got it anyway. I’ve always suffered from it.
As a child, if someone told me I was pretty, I thought it was because the person hadn’t noticed my towering height, bruised knees, goofy teeth, freckles, and ruler-straight hair. As a music major in college, I was certain it’d be discovered that I couldn’t really play the piano. And writing—Lord knows I’ve bullshit my way through that world. It’s only a matter of time before everyone realizes I can’t write my way out of a paper paragraph. Clearly, I was an imposter at marriage. And as a mother . . . I’ve pulled it off so far, but at some point everyone will figure out I don’t know what the hell I’m doing there, either.
But my imposter complex manifests even greater with matters of the heart; ergo, nothing makes me squirm quite like Valentine’s Day. Seriously—do we really have to do this?
If you’re in a crappy marriage, Valentine’s Day is akin to a bright spotlight shining on the hopelessness of your relationship, accompanied by a 52-piece Sousa march and over-the-top fireworks display. I played the part of “wife”—but unhappy, lonely, and disappointed does not make for an enthusiastic Valentine. It took eight years before I was busted and fired.
Since then, I’ve had a tiny trickle of Valentine’s Day dates. Starting with the midnight bell of New Year’s Eve, some of us Solo Moms circle our prey in anticipation of the following month’s romantically momentous event. I don’t want to be single on V-Day. I can’t be single on V-Day—because the world tells me I’m a loser if I am.
Somehow, though, I manufacture a relationship, and weeks before February 14, I make the dinner reservation. After all, he’s a man; he won’t do it.
The big night has arrived, yet I don’t feel particularly amorous. I eat my salad and drink too much cheap champagne as I realize I don’t love this guy . . . I don’t even like him that much. My mind wanders: Do I have to sleep with him? The kids have school tomorrow. I didn’t wax, and I’m tired! I chide myself, It’s Valentine’s Day; I’m supposed to feel more than this. But I don’t feel more. I’m no Valentine. I’m an imposter.
Then I turn 50. And Valentine’s Day melts into something 13-year-old girls flit and fuss about; a day fraught with unfulfilled expectations, needless spending, and far too many carbs—just one of thousands of days that make up a lifetime.
And I realize that although life may be too short to not have that second cupcake, it is also quite long with room for many relationships, ups and downs, adventures, challenges, failures, and successes—and, on average, 75 Valentine’s Days. So though I might have felt like an imposter on the last Valentine’s Day, it doesn’t mean I will on the next. After all, I am not an imposter in love. My children own my heart, and that is real. And a Valentine’s Day spent with the loves of my life beats any V-Day with a passing “possible” love.
My Auntie met her beloved in her late 80s—a “younger man” at only 81. He bought her furs, took her on cruises, and adored her like the precious rose that she was. When I asked her, “Do you have sex?” she winked at me and said, “He has his moments.”
There is hope for me yet!
Although it is true that life is too short, it is also long. And in matters of the heart, this Valentine imposter prefers to wait for the real thing.
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Kathleen Laccinole, ESME’s Dating Resource Guide, has penned numerous films and parenting books but is best known for producing the highly lauded Greta, age 20, and William, age 16.
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