Host Carmelita Tiu tells the story of the worst/best valentine she ever received, and shares the truths she wants to share with her daughters, especially around this time of year.
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Know Them, Be Them, Raise Them
Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host: [00:00:00] Welcome to Know Them, Be Them, Raise Them a show to help moms stay informed and inspired so they can show up for themselves and their daughters the way they want to. I'm your host Carmelita Tiu. Join me each week as I cover a variety of topics, all designed to support mindful growth- oriented, busy, moms of girls, especially girls in their crucial tween and teen years.
So as Valentine's day approaches and the shelves of the stores are a wash with a thousand shades of red, pink, and white. I thought I'd share a story about the most meaningful Valentine I ever received, which led me to want to share some thoughts and reminders for ourselves and our daughters.
Okay. So let's briefly talk Valentine's day, love, romance, hearts, and flowers. I like that it's an opportunity for people to express their romantic feelings and appreciation for their significant others. But as we all know, it can be a tough holiday for [00:01:00] anyone.
For those who aren't attached, it can feel like the world is conspiring to make you feel inadequate. From billboards pushing engagement rings to streaming platforms, pushing romcoms and love stories, to wistful messages like be mine or forever yours on candies, coffee mugs, and succulent planters in every store, it's impossible to escape this celebration of romantic love. And if you don't have that and you want it. The day can feel kind of like a downer. And you have to work to keep yourself from feeling down about yourself, even though maybe the best part of you knows this one day shouldn't make a difference.
I spent the vast majority of my twenties being single. And when I didn't have Valentine's day plans, I'd head over to TJ Maxx or Marshall's after work to distract myself from my sorry, state of singlehood with some retail therapy.
Sorry being [00:02:00] said, sarcastically.
For those who are attached, it's not a cakewalk either. It's like Christmas for couples minus Jesus's birthday, and the day off of work. From a young age, our culture conditions us to have really high expectations of Valentine's day. Often involving material things and grand gestures. It puts a tremendous amount of pressure on people, maybe even financial strain.
And even if we're aware of how commercialized and over the top Valentine's day can be we can still find ourselves dissatisfied because we're subconsciously conflicted about the distance between what we have and what society has told us we should have, or what someone else in our social circles has. Instead of being grateful, we might end up focusing on things we don't have, which inevitably leads to disappointment.
This brings me to my own story of Valentine's day blues. I think I was a freshman in high school, many moons ago. [00:03:00] Like most teens, I had my share of acne. I felt like my body's proportions didn't always make sense.
And I was oh-so aware of how my appearance was nothing like the girls I saw in Teen or Seventeen, or other fashion magazines that my friends and I devoured back then.
And on Valentine's day at school all day long, I saw classmates get stuff from their boyfriends or crushes. Some were surprised by flowers in their lockers. Singing telegrams were a thing back then, so one girl was approached by a gorilla in a Tutu. who sang the refrain of, I just called to say, I love you, and then handed her a bunch of balloons. And then newer relationships or crushes would get cards. Those little candy hearts or small boxes of chocolate wrapped up in Crimson cellophane.
And I don't recall friends exchanging Valentines with friends in high school, at least not at mine today. I know we have Galentine's Day, thanks to Amy Poehler's parks and [00:04:00] recreation character. And my daughters aren't in high school yet, so they still pass out Valentines to their entire classes. But back then, at least at my school, Valentine's Day was really for the lucky ones who were romantically involved.
So that day, for me, Valentine's Day, freshman year, I got nothing. No boyfriend, no one even interested in me, meant no flowers, no stuffed animals, no candy, no nothing. So waiting for my mom to pick me up after school. I was down, but I tried not to show it.
Uh, my parents didn't like the idea of boyfriends before college. They thought boys were a distraction and that we should focus on our grades and extracurriculars instead. So I didn't feel like I could talk about how crummy it felt to not have a boyfriend who could give me something on Valentine's day. It sounds so trivial now, but that's where my head was when I was 14.
I couldn't really make sense of it all. But I pushed the thoughts aside as my [00:05:00] mom's car pulled up and I opened the passenger side door.
"Happy Valentine's day!" My mom said as I settled into the front seat, and then she reached behind me to grab something. And a few seconds later, she presented me with a small bouquet of a dozen miniature peach roses. I can vividly remember how they looked.
They had sprigs of baby's breath, peeking out from the sides. And it was this clear cellophane that had some writing on it that said like fresh flowers for you. And the tag read, "Love you Pretty Rosebud!" which was her nickname for my sister and I.
My eyes started to sting as I teared up in that moment.
"Thanks mom," I said and gave her a hug. "They're so pretty." As we pulled away from the curb and started the drive home, the first thought that came to my head was. "I'm such a loser. The only thing I get on Valentine's day is from my mom. Some Valentines, this is a horrible Valentine's day." [00:06:00] On the surface, I was pleased and grateful and appropriately Loving towards my mom. But that was my thinking for the rest of the ride home. And honestly, for a long time after that.
It wasn't until I think several years later, when I told a friend about my mom's gift, that I had a huge perspective shift. Instead of scoffing, like I expected her to, when I told her the story.
She. She said, "Aw, how sweet." Sweet. I mean, yeah. But wasn't it more pathetic than sweet. "Your mom was so thoughtful." My friend said almost wistfully.
And I realized she was right. I had to sit with it for a while, but I eventually saw her gesture for what it was. My mom gave me flowers on Valentine's day because she loved me. Not out of pity. Not because she felt sorry for me. But because she [00:07:00] wanted to celebrate me. The flowers, weren't a constellation prize. They were the prize.
They reminded me of how grateful I was for her, for my family, for the power of small acts of kindness. By giving me flowers, she nudged me to rethink what Valentine's day meant and could mean. Her Valentine told me that whether or not I was liked by a boy, I was worthy of love. I was worthy of flowers.
And though those flowers are long gone. I realized now it was the best Valentine ever.
So revisiting this story. Not only did it make me want to give my daughters flowers on Valentine's day. It also made me want to share some of what I've learned, reflecting back on it. It's never too early or too late to encourage your daughters to be more mindful and think critically about the world around them and the messages they're receiving.
So here's what I want to tell my daughters.[00:08:00] Granted they're tweens now. So this may feel less applicable to them, and I may get an eye roll, but hopefully they'll carry these truths as they navigate crushes relationships, heartache, and more in the years to come.
Number one. Your worth is not defined by your relationship status. Being single doesn't mean you're unworthy of love. You are enough just as you are. If you're not in a relationship. Choose to see that as a time to continue focusing on yourself and loving yourself. Similarly being in a relationship doesn't mean you or that person are more lovable or worthy than the next person. Everyone has worth, regardless of their relationship status.
Number two. You are beautiful inside and out. If you don't have a boyfriend or a partner. You may think that means you are unattractive. And you're not. Side note: I [00:09:00] used to think that we shouldn't comment about our daughter's looks at all, but I've come around. In my opinion. If your daughter's looks don't come close to traditional Western beauty standards.
Or she doesn't see women that look like her represented in the media. She needs to hear that she is beautiful even on the outside. Because when the media idealizes something she's not, and excludes anyone that looks like her, she gets the subconscious message that she doesn't look good or pretty. And we, as moms can counteract that.
Okay. Back to what I'll tell my daughters.
Number three. Focus on the good in your life. Reflect on the things you're grateful for the qualities about yourself and your life that make you appreciate. And remember that you are already blessed. Valentine's day may make you feel like you can only be happy if you're in a relationship and receive lavish gifts. Don't fall for it.
Number four. Don't be [00:10:00] afraid of flying solo. It can be hard to do things on your own, but it's also one of the best ways to help ensure you'll never be stopped from doing something you want to just because you don't have a buddy or a partner. So try something new, even if your friends aren't into it. Spend some time alone with your thoughts. And be comfortable with that. Building this muscle will also make it easier to walk away from unhealthy relationships, if it ever comes to that.
Number five. Romantic comedies or romcoms are fun, but they are definitely fiction... and only part of the story. Where you love stories have ups and downs, but if you're lucky, they also have a lot of stability and trust. Stuff that rarely makes it into movies. And real life conversations never flow like they do on screen. Stuttering and repeating yourself and not finding the right words until minutes later. Totally normal as I can attest to. [00:11:00]
Number six. You get to decide how or whether to celebrate Valentine's day. While Valentine's day has muddled origins, it's commonly held that its aura of heterosexual coupling started in Roman times when young men would draw the names of women from a jar, then pair up with them for the duration of the feast of Lupercalia, which ran from February 13 through 15.
Today it's become a day to celebrate romantic love. But if you want to make it a day to spend time with your family, do it. If you want to celebrate your friends, do it. Find what works for you and own it.
So those are my thoughts about Valentine's day. Thank you so much for listening and tuning in. Remember it takes action to claim something. So by listening, you've already shown you're the kind of mom who shows up for herself and her daughter - that's so worthy of celebrating. [00:12:00]
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And here's to strong women. May we know them, may we be them and may we raise them.