Published in The Evening Echo on Wednesday, February 14, 2018
As a school girl, I would hope against hope each Valentine’s Day that the boy I fancied in my class would sneak a card adorned with love hearts into my school bag. Maybe I had watched too many teen movies. I daydreamed about what it would feel like to come home from school, open my bag and find a home-made card from a “secret admirer”. The initial surprise of finding a card crafted with care. The excitement that would follow when I ran to the telephone to call my friend to tell her about my amorous discovery. Our lengthy conversation about ‘who could have put the card in your bag?’ or ‘what could this card actually mean in terms of romance and true love?’ My father roaring down the hall to ‘Get off that phone! Do you think I’m made of money?’
Of course, my teenage dream remained a dream. I never found a card in my school bag. Last year, I found a card in someone else’s school bag. My daughter’s. With help from her teacher at creche, Saoirse had made me and her Daddy a Valentine’s Day card. On the front of the card, the sweetest message was written;
“From the tips of my toes, to the bottom of my heart, I will always love you”
Inside, the word “love” was displayed. ‘L’ and ‘E’ were finger painted. Saoirse’s handprint was the ‘O’ and her footprints fashioned the ‘V’. It was the cutest card I had ever seen and the best card I had ever received for so many reasons. The prints of Saoirse’s hand and feet, then just shy of her second birthday, reminded me that her toddler years are but mere moments. She is growing up so fast. I must relish every cuddle, every kiss, every request to read her favourite book, even if we have read it five times in one night. Because the day will come when she will not sit on my lap anymore. One day, I will not be the centre of her universe.
I also felt a great deal of love towards the teacher at Saoirse’s creche. The thought and care that went into helping her make a Valentine’s Day card for Mummy and Daddy was so greatly appreciated. I imagined how Saoirse must have enjoyed the creative process of creating the card and how fun it must have been to spend time painting with her teacher and her young school friends.
Saoirse was born in Guernsey in 2015. My good friend, Anna, gave birth to her son, Oscar, a few days after Saoirse was born. Even though Saoirse now lives in Cork, Oscar and Saoirse’s lives have been linked together via cards. Mainly “Moonpig” ones. When we left Guernsey, Saoirse sent Oscar a ‘farewell but don’t forget me’ card, with a photo of the two of them on the front. Likewise, Oscar has sent Saoirse bespoke birthday cards with photos of his adventures on the beaches of Guernsey. Anna sent me some photographs of the first Valentine’s Day card she received from her son, Oscar. The card is heart-shaped and Oscar’s handprints are on the front. The poem on the back says;
“There used to be so many
Of my finger prints to see
On furniture and walls and things
From sticky, grubby me.
But it you stop and think awhile
You’ll see I’m growing fast
These little moments disappear
You can’t bring back the past.
So here’s a small reminder
To keep, not throw away
Of tiny hands and how they looked
To make you smile someday”
I asked Anna how she felt about Oscar’s card.
“It is so lovely and thoughtful”, said Anna. “The poem is very true. Time does fly by and they grow up so quickly. I’m so pleased I kept the card to remember how small Oscar was as you do forget. It makes me emotional reading it. It really is unconditional love”.
Anna is right. Cards like these remind us of the depths of our love for our children. That unconditional love which knows no bounds and only changes by growing stronger, no matter what circumstances you and your child find yourselves in. A bond strengthened by happiness and worry, laughter and tears.
This Valentine’s Day, Saoirse and I have decided to spread our love a little further. Of course, Daddy will get a card. That goes without saying. Plus the grandparents, also known as “Superheroes in disguise”. But, I think that teacher may like a handmade card from a certain little lady, to say thank you for the care and support provided to her whilst at creche. And, maybe, little Oscar should stand by the post box in his house in Guernsey on Valentine’s Day. There might be a card with an Irish stamp on it, just for him.