Even when I was a happily married mom, Valentine's Day was one of my least favorite holidays. It always seemed so forced and contrived; as if the card, candy, flowers and fancy dinner merchants of the world cast a spell on coupled men and women. And if we did not have a significant other to shower us with all the niceties they were selling, we were losers; the walking wounded with the proverbial forefinger and thumb "L" tattooed on our forehead.
As a single mom, February 14th took on an extra special kind of pressure. If I didn't have a boyfriend, I would avoid eye contact with anyone and everyone, in case they dare ask what I was doing for Valentine's Day. Creating the illusion that a plethora of suitors were jousting for the honor of my attention became an obsession. I admit it: sending myself a dozen roses, to my office, with a card signed 'Your Secret Admirer,' was not one of my proudest moments. (I know some of you have done the same thing... or at least thought about it.)
Eventually, as each year passed and I remained a solo Valentines Day celebrator, I began to embrace the holiday in a completely new and healthy context. I transformed it from a day filled with self-loathing and frustration into a special 24-hour period to celebrate loving my self, my best girlfriends and the two most important young ladies in my life, my daughters. Now, as an 11-year single mom veteran and author of It Takes All 5, I have discovered innumerable ways to make Valentines an Awesome Single Mom celebration. Here are my top five favorite ways to reclaim this holiday for yourself:
1. Watch your favorite sappy chick flicks: Open up your best bottle of red (maybe the one you took from your ex's wine collection when he wasn't looking) and pair it with some rich dark chocolate. Turn down the lights, plug in the DVD and cry your heart out. Not only is it healing, its healthy. Crying releases dopamine, your happy hormone. Or if you're not the crying type, you can yell at the TV out loud. No one is there to shush you and a healthy yell releases endorphins, a natural upper. If you're super daring, bake yourself a chocolate cake, eat a few bites and toss it in the trash... then when no ones looking, because of course there is no one there looking over your shoulder, pick it out of the basket and take another delicious bite. If Sex and The City's Miranda Hobbes can do it, so can you.
2. Make a heart-shaped dinner for the little loves in your life. Create an entire heart-shaped dinner for you and your children. Make a meat loaf shaped like a heart using a metal heart-shaped cake form. Cut radishes into rose bud shapes and stick them on skewers, put them in a vase as a crudité centerpiece. Crispy kale chips can be scattered on the tables like leaves -- super healthy and kids love them because they taste like potato chips. Of course, no single mom and kid V-Day dinner is complete without a delicious dessert. Single serving heart shaped chocolate cupcakes with tons of luscious pink frosting, that your kids can help you bake, is the piece de resistance! That is one heart-full festive fun day of Valentines love.
3. Have a bestie VB-Day party. Get together with your best girlfriends pull out the scissors, paste, poster board, old magazines, ribbons, crayons and an awesome bottle of champagne (or two). Turn on the '80s tunes and have a "new romance" vision board party. Create the Valentine of your dreams down to every last detail.
4. Indulge in some old school finger painting with your kids. Registered art therapist Lucia Capacchione, Ph.D. has found that a person's non-dominant hand is a direct channel to one's inner potential. Using your opposite hand for writing or painting releases anger and allows your true feelings to shine. So, if this Valentine's Day you find yourself minus a significant other, go ahead and get downright crazy colorful with your kids. Dip your fingers in primary red, blue and yellow paint and let whatever flows through you onto the easel paper. This practice will help you become more creative, expressive and intuitive about your life and your future relationships. Plus your kids will have a blast and think you are the coolest mom ever!
5. Write yourself a love letter. List all your best 'Being an Awesome Girlfriend' qualities that you want to bring into your next relationship and the not-so-pretty girlfriend qualities you learned don't work. If you're super ambitious, take it to the next level and write a letter to your new future lover. Tell him about all the reasons he is going to love, cherish and adore you as his girl, and share all the wonderful qualities about him you love! Those will be all the good ones from the last relationship you loved plus a few more you know he's going to have.
These are my tried and true tips for loving yourself on Valentine's day -- and every day of the year. I would love to hear how other single moms have made the most out of your amazing Valentine's Day. And however you decide to celebrate this February 14th, make it a powerfully loving day all about the beautiful single mom you are!
Kerri Zane is an Emmy award-winning, twenty-year television executive producer, healthy living expert, single mom advisor, speaker, spokesperson and author of It Takes All 5: A Single Mom's Guide to Finding the REAL One, She has an M.A. in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica and a B.A. from UCLA.
For more by Kerri Zane, click here.