Having My Cake
I'm afraid I am that person who throws a party for the kids so that the lovestruck parents can celebrate Valentine's Day together. I am the enabler of romance, not the recipient. I take one for the team.
And this year, on the day of love, I found myself crouching at a low table, beneath valentine's decorations, eating pizza with four greasy fingered, tomato faced children. Children who have my blue eyes even though they aren't mine.
And while we eat, we chat about Dora the Explorer and Lego Star Wars and the Harry Potter party we're going to have soon, and then the conversation inevitably steers itself to which foods on the table auntie Ginger can't eat. On this occasion it was the mounds of strawberries adorning our chocolate cake. My plate was conspicuously devoid of strawberries.
The conversation, usually with the seven year old, goes something like this:
Him: Can't you have strawberries?
Me: No, I can't.
Him: What will happen if you eat them?
Me: Remember how some foods make my cells leak bad stuff into my body and it makes me sick?
Him: Do you like strawberries?
Me: I love strawberries. I miss them.
Him: Well, I guess you can't have any.
This brings me to the pivotal decision. Do I sit at a table, surrounded by children who can inhale berries like oxygen, and feel cheated? Because I do miss strawberries. I miss a lot of foods. I miss a lot of things, or have missed a lot of things due to circumstances beyond my control. I see these things when I sit around the family dinner table and not just what's on the dinner plate. I watch couples dividing the tasks of feeding and cleaning up after their kids. I see how much little kindnesses and light touches and teasing smiles mean. How much they're worth. To them, it's probably so automatic they hardly notice. But I notice.
Because it's easy to see the things you've missed out on.
I could dwell on being alone with someone else's children on Valentine's Day. Or I could just really savour a plateful of cake and cream. Because I have cake and cream. And what I have in life is quantifiably greater than what I miss.
So I smile at the seven year old and scoop more berries onto his rapidly disappearing cake. And I gaze around at my comfy kitchen, in my comfy house, in my comfy life. And I lick the cream off my spoon and feel incredibly loved.