{p.s. I love you…}


The irony has never been lost on me that although I was born on Valentine’s Day, I am not a romantic.

And it’s not just that I’m not a gooey, gushy-in-love romantic. I am not a romantic in the philosophical sense, either – I tend more to classicism and pragmatism. I most often lead with my head, not my heart; I trust my mind, not my gut.

I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve. I don’t cry during movies or even Super Bowl commercials with cute puppies. I usually don’t publicly proclaim my affections, though I’ll often write about them.

And though I’ve known this about myself, it didn’t prevent the guilt I felt as a new mother who didn’t gush outwardly about her love for her children.

I love being affectionate with my children. I hug and kiss and tell them I love them every day, more times than I can count. {Oh, who am I kidding? It’s at least 7.3 times a day, on average.}

But I distinctly remember when my children were younger, as I left work for the day to go pick them up, well-intentioned colleagues {often ones without children} would ask, “Aren’t you so excited?! Don’t you just miss them so much during the day?!” All with big grins and gushy enthusiasm.

And I’d smile and feign similar gushiness and excitement for the sh!tstorm that I knew would likely ensue when I picked up my kids and brought them home. I’d feel guilty that I was not bubbling over with observable maternal love.

But one day, pulling into the daycare parking lot to retrieve my littles, I had an epiphany.

Why would I expect myself to act that way? I’ve never been like that.

As a child, and even now, though I love my parents and my sister dearly, I rarely say it. Though I miss my husband when I travel without him, I don’t weep at our separation or wax melodramatically about the sorrow of the aching distance between us. Sometimes, I even forget to call.

I’m not saying my way is better. Perhaps I should say “I love you” more to those who mean so much to me. But that just hasn’t been my style.

For further evidence, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I will share with you the story of my engagement. My husband and I had already discussed marriage, and, as a rational planning type, I knew that he would be proposing in the near future. I had one rule {because I always have rules}: It couldn’t be in public. Because I DON’T DO PUBLIC DECLARATIONS OF LOVE. In fact, so much of my nervousness about my wedding day wasn’t really about whether the cake would taste perfect or what the flowers would look like, but about the idea of standing in front of hundreds of people and publicly proclaiming my feelings. Who came up with that tradition anyway?

But I digress… the proposal. My then-boyfriend “surprised” me with tickets to the Degas exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, which is obviously where two European history teachers had once gone for their first date. So I had a feeling this would be the day.

As we walked through the Impressionist wing, my future fiancé suggested we sit on the bench in the middle of the room, to better admire the Monet in front of us. And then, IN THIS PUBLIC PLACE, he got down on one knee, looked up at me lovingly, and—


I told you I’m not a romantic.

He paused. Clearly that was not the response he’d anticipated. But he gathered his composure, continued with his prepared speech, produced the ring, popped the question, and we got engaged. {Isn’t that a romantic retelling?}

And, to my profound embarrassment, there were indeed other people in the room WHO APPLAUDED.

And now we’ve been married for almost 12 years and clearly it all worked out fine… but I still don’t like to wear my heart on my sleeve.

I am still guarded with my emotions.

Which leads me back to my daycare epiphany. Why would I expect that 31 years of stoicism and avoidance of public gushiness would change just because I was a mother? I love my children – deeply and fiercely and profoundly – but that doesn’t mean I have to proclaim my anguish at our separation during the day followed by a demonstration of giddy excitement when we are reunited. What’s wrong with equanimity?

We feel love and anger and excitement and disappointment differently. We feel marriage and art and Super Bowl commercials differently. Doesn’t it make sense that we would feel motherhood differently?

There’s clearly a difference between Buddy the Elf animatedly singing to his dad in a crowded office, “I love you! I love you! I love you! I looooove yooooouuuu!!”, and the thoughtful letter that simply ends, “p.s. I love you.” But it’s all love.

So yes, this Valentine’s baby is guilty of not being a romantic. But I refuse to feel guilty about it.

p.s. Happy Valentine’s Day!


Today’s post is part of the Finish the Sentence Friday linkup. This week’s prompt is “I was found guilty…” Click the image below to read more!

Janine's Confessions of A Mommyaholic
Sarah Rudell Beach
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Sarah Rudell Beach

Sarah is a writer, teacher, and mother. At Left Brain Buddha, she writes about her journey to live and parent mindfully, joyfully, and thought-fully in her left-brain analytical life. When not working, she enjoys dancing, reading, and hanging out with her little Buddhas.
Sarah Rudell Beach
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  1. says

    Oh, I feel your pain about a holiday birthday. I think irony is pretty typical on that issue. My birthday is on Christmas Day. I’m no scrooge, but I don’t necessarily embrace it like others. I feel like there’s too much pressure about the day. Don’t you?

    PS Happy birthday! :)
    Kerith Stull recently posted…Guilty: Not a FanMy Profile

  2. says

    First of all – Happy Birthday! Secondly, I love this! I am not a mushy, gushy type either. Of course, I love my kids and husband and family, but I am not a “Let me pour my heart out” type. I rarely cry and really don’t like Valentine’s day! I agree with your statement – we all love differently – and there’s nothing wrong with that.
    Lisa @ The Golden Spoons recently posted…I’m GuiltyMy Profile

  3. says

    It’s your birthday! Happy birthday, Sarah! I’ll say again that next year’s number is really not that bad (it wasn’t for me, anyway). I love how you handled this post. I am kindof the mushy gushy type but only sometimes and not with certain people so I get not wanting to have the displays of affection. My husband’s proposal with incredibly NOT romantic (unromantic??) and I was fine with it. In fact, I pretty much told him which ring to get. Oh and I cry too often. I wish I didn’t. Enjoy your day, friend!

  4. says

    Happy Birthday! You don’t have to wear your heart on your sleeve, as long as there is love in your heart for the people in your life! And I love the proposal story – classic and humourous! As I have writtin in my blog, I have been married twice and never proposed to once…and neither one worked out.
    Audrey recently posted…Happy Valentine’s Day….Now Get Out!My Profile

  5. says

    Ok, first, Happy Birthday.
    Second, I get this. I have never been one to declare my emotions publicly either. PDA has always made me uncomfortable (even my own). It is so “bad” (for lack of a better word) that when my grandma died my husband asked me if I was upset. YES, rocked, terrified, saddened, lost, but I just didn’t show it. Bacon still needs to be brought home.
    So thank you for this honest post and for showing that folks like us are OK and we still love – hard.
    Allison recently posted…I was found guilty of…My Profile

  6. says

    Happy birthday! I, too, am no romantic and I despise Valentine’s Day because I feel that it’s a holiday trying to force my husband and I to be people that we are not. I love your proposal story. It’s perfect for Valentine’s Day.

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