The Bearded Iris

A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

The Valentine Card Conundrum

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. Or…

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, Spider-Man, doesn’t go to Montessori school. Which is probably why he has such a pronounced speech impediment and can’t hold a pencil. But more on that later…

Anyhooo…. 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 Valentines 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 in the rubber parts. So I made a mental note that Valentines Day is obviously more about the earning or losing of 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 Spidey was attending his first year of non-Montessori preschool, I made sure we were ready to show those other Mothers how it was done. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present exhibit A:

Spider-Man's Homemade Butterfly Valentines, 2010.

Ta-DOW! Oh yeah baby. That’s what I’m talking ’bout. I let then-two-year-old Spidey use the bingo markers to do the dots on nice thick white paper, then I cut them into hearts and overlapped the points to form the butterfly shape. Punched two holes for the butterfly’s lollipop body, and had Spidey place the pony beads on the pipe cleaners which I then bent into the antennae and attached to the back behind the lollipop. Then I just wrote the darling expression on each card: “Valentine, you make my heart flutter!” And we were done. We only had to make twelve… praise the Lord… because that was a lot of steps, especially for a slacker like me. But what the hell. It was actually fun. And I was not about to take my World’s Worst Montessori Mom crown to a new school.

Wouldn’t you know it, when Spidey brought his bag of Valentines home that afternoon, his butterfly card was the ONLY handmade card in the bag!! So great, I may as well wear a t-shirt that says “I’m from the island of Misfit Toys!” WTF? I can just imagine those other mothers looking at our butterfly cards and thinking, “Aw, how sad. Little Spider-Man couldn’t afford real Valentines!” or “Well, lookie here. Spider-Man’s mom has an inferiority complex. The poor thing. Let’s pray for her. Honey – bring Mama the fam’ly bible coozy.”

One of these days, I’ll figure it out. Better late than never,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

6 comments on “The Valentine Card Conundrum

  1. Emfine
    February 10, 2011

    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
      February 10, 2011

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

  2. Kristen K.
    February 10, 2011

    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
    February 10, 2011

    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
      February 11, 2011

      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
    February 11, 2011

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

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This entry was posted on February 10, 2011 by in authentic, crafty and tagged , , , , , .
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