December 13
At my best, I try to be a voice for children. At my very best, I help them find their own voice. ************************************ We don't accomplish anything in this world alone...and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one's life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something. - Sandra Day O'Connor * ************************************


Mamoore's Links
FEBRUARY 14, 2011 7:42AM

Careful Hearts

Rate: 27 Flag

A few years ago, when our youngest daughter was just four, she tip-toed into my bedroom on the morning of Valentine’s Day as I was getting dressed to go to work.  She had caught me in one of those hurried intervals, somewhere between packing lunches and signing 4th grade reading logs, when I was trying to make myself semi-presentable. One of my few moments alone amidst the kind of craziness that ensues at 7:30 a.m. in households across the country.  Which is why she was probably tip-toeing. Because on more than one morning when she had needed my attention, I am positive I said something less than kind to her about giving me a few minutes to myself.


So there she was in her mismatched outfit, nest of sleep-hair still tangled in the back of her head, holding something so very carefully in her cupped hands.  It was the same way she held all of her treasures: the pretty rocks from the neighbor’s driveway; the wood chips from the Montessori playground; the seagull feather from the beach; a glittery plastic bead from under the bed.  This time, it was not something that she had found that she held with such care, but something she had made.


My Valentine.


With her still-pudgy hands she had cut two hearts, almost rounding the edges but missing the curve a little here and there so that there was an endearing imperfection in their outline.  She handed me those scotch-tape-joined-together-hearts so gingerly and with such expectation.  It turns out that the shape was of little importance.  What she had poured herself into was the message.



Alice's Hearts



“Be careful with this. I Love You.”


Though I think she only meant to indicate that the paper hearts were fragile, her words could not have been more profound.  A reminder to me of what I signed up for when I became a parent.  Of the expectation our children have that as their parents, we will always keep them safe.  Not just their physical selves, but their emotional selves and the things they treasure most.  Always.


Somehow, I knew as I held those crooked paper hearts that it was a goal I would continuously aspire to and one I would have to fail.


Allowing my kids to feel the aches and pains of growing-up is one of the toughest life lessons I will ever have to learn.  It’s not the stuff of Hallmark Valentines. When they look at me with the expectation that I will make it all right, I will always struggle with the desire to hold onto them as if they were as fragile as those paper hearts.  Always. No matter how old they get. Even as I let them go.


Be careful with this.  I love you.


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This brought a tear to my eye.
.....out of the mouth of babes . . .
Melissa, a wonderful story and that Valentine is a keeper!! Happy Valentine's Day!!
Funny how kids just know these things.
Make me cry first thing in the morning I don't care....This was so beautiful and with one just now leaving the nest even more touching. What a lucky mama you are.
I've had those hearts taped to the mirror in my bedroom since the day she gave them to me - it's my daily reminder.
The best and most fragile valentine...words not needed. :)
would love to have that moment again, those heartfelt cards and kisses. better than any diamonds or flowers...
I love you so much. This is why.
Melissa, you are so lovely. Your kids are as well, and they will continue to be because you are careful with their hearts. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story.
A treasure, thank you for sharing it with me. I'm a crybaby & it' s OK.
My body is still tingling from this post. It does't get more beautiful and loving than this, does it?! All from the heart from a child! And you're correct....the desire to protect our children doesn't end at any age. It hurts just as much, and perhaps even more, as they get older.
I think she gave you the best Valentine ever . . . thanks for sharing it with us. Such a beautiful thought, through and through . . .

and it's nice to see you, mamoore!
This is great. I should tape that to my mirror too... thanks.
I'm in the middle of trying to finish writing a very un-valentinesy grant today but wanted to pause and say thanks to everyone for their sweet comments- glad to share a little bit of Alice's love with you all!
Beautiful and so so true. Love the images you conjured up with your good words. And it is the biggest vulnerability and anguish for a parent to ever feel we can't protect our children. Despite my four being in their twenties, if any of them is unhappy, it kills me, just kills me. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful Valentine.
Precious beyond words, Mamoore. ~r

i remember those days and am reminded as my daughter now lives them like i did.
The perfect message for Valentine's Day. Truth be told, it is my one and only daughter that will always be my true Valentine.
"Allowing my kids to feel the aches and pains of growing-up is one of the toughest life lessons I will ever have to learn. "

oh my. We'd be friends if we lived in the same neighborhood...or I'd badger you to be at least! I love everything you write and feel the same way about my kids. This was just perfect.
I "heart" your story! Happy Valentine's Day!
"Be careful with this. I love you." Somehow those words are so important for us all to hear. Thank you!
Having a little day-after-V-day sugar overload....thanks again for stopping by to read. Think I'm going to go out and find a frame for my little paper hearts, they've been stuck on my mirror for long enough.
Very sweet, very well done. Your daughter is as lucky to have you as a mother as you are to have her.
Yes the imperfections of a childs Valentine are priceless. Thanks for sharing. Wish I had one.