A Valentine's Tale

Or, "The Day I Was One of Those Moms."

In early 2007, Elanor, who had just turned two, was attending a local daycare center in Fargo, ND.

A few days before that Valentine's Day, the lady who ran the center told me that they were going to have a Valentine's Day party. All the kids were going to make valentines for each other, and they wanted each child to bring in a valentine box.

I inwardly winced; I knew I could wrestle all weekend with a glue gun but still produce something that would look like a head-on collision between Sesame Street and a nightmare. I really didn't want to make my toddler blush with shame.

I had a sudden inspiration and knew exactly what to do: I called my mother. All the Martha Stewart genes in the family had passed me by, but my mother had them in spades (my sister got them too; I somehow managed to cop the bibliophile genes instead).

I explained what I needed and asked her if she'd be willing to whip something up for Elanor.

"A shoebox with some paper doilies or construction-paper hearts will be fine," I told her. "Nothing too elaborate."

She enthusiastically agreed (in hindsight, that should have been my first inkling of what was to come), and promised she'd have it done by the following weekend.

Sure enough, she called me the Friday before Valentine's Day to tell me the box was done. We made arrangements to meet and pick it up.

I had asked for a shoebox with some artfully arranged stickers, stamps, or maybe some curling ribbon.

What I got was this:

A pink princess castle with five turrets and a drawbridge.

"Mom," I said. "I asked for a shoebox."

"I know," she said apologetically. "But I found this really cute idea online, and... well, I got a little carried away."

"She worked on it for hours," my stepfather offered. "It turned out really great, don't you think?"

On Valentine's Day, I walked into the daycare with that box, and every single woman in the room turned and stared at me -- or rather, at what I was carrying.

"This is Elanor's valentine box," I said sheepishly. "Her grandmother made it."

As the other mothers exchanged glances, I knew I had become, for once in my life, one of those moms. (It's never happened since.)


  1. awww, that's too bad that you feel like that's a bad thing. I proudly exclaim that the kids' Grandma does all the sewing needed in our family (except for putting on buttons...I CAN do that) and anything artsy like your picture would come from my step-mom or the kids aunts. I don't have a creative bone in my body. I think that's so cute and something you can keep forever! I guess I never looked around at what anyone else brought it was time for stuff like that. So quite possibly...I have no idea what you're referring to as to being one of "those" moms. :)

  2. Michelle, I think it's because I have all of the desire and none of the ability! I yearn to be able to make cute, artsy-crafty things, or to knit or crochet or do scrapbooking, or what have you. When I try, however, it rarely ends well. :P Or it ends up looking substandard while Classmate X's mom brings in something that looks like it should be featured in Martha Stewart Living, and then I feel guilty because I wish I had done a better job.

  3. Love it! :)

    I'm somewhere in the middle: I enjoy crafting, etc. and I have some skills, but I'm often too lazy to get things done. Oops!

  4. Goodness...I have tears in my eyes! It sounds like my mother! She said she was making her baptism dress...I thought okay, simple, sewn etc....Nope, took 10 months...hand embroidered the whole ave maria around each panel...The most ornate baptism gown I have ever seen! I was so scared to bring it home on the plane that it is still at her house. Oh and it came with a garment bag that was hand embroidered as well.... :) She said that at the end of the dress she would sit down and literally shake because it was SO MUCH! LOL

    That gene skipped me too... :)

  5. This.is.hilarious!! Thanks for the laugh!

    BTW, I've never yet been "one of those moms" either!

  6. "All the Martha Stewart genes in the family had passed me by, but my mother had them in spades (my sister got them too; I somehow managed to cop the bibliophile genes instead)."

    Um, yeah, me too. I must turn to my husband for all creative ventures. And that box? HOLY HECK!!! That's amazing! What an experience to finally be "that mom." I think you should memorialize it with a framed picture, with your face in it, on your wall. :)

  7. That is ADORABLE. I'm sure your mother regrets making every other two year old girl in the class cry herself to sleep that night... LOL

  8. My mom was like that. I treasure all her projects in which she got carried away because my mom isn't here anymore.

    But if you enjoy crafting, do it anyway. It's okay to enjoy an activity just for fun even if it doesn't turn out well.

    This is a happy story.

  9. Hahahaha, I hope you meant to make us laugh with this story because it is seriously hilarious! Very well written! I could picture the whole thing go down. lol. Love it!


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