I have a history, you might say, with Valentine’s Day.

When I sit down to analyze it, and you know that I do, I find that there are a few different ways to be superior on Valentine’s Day:

1) Effort superiority “Oh, these? It was simple. I raised the goat from birth and then collected the cashmere this past spring.  After I combed the fleece out, I dyed it using berries I picked and crushed myself.  Then I spun it into yarn over the course of a few evenings while my husband read selections of Proust aloud.  I measured all of the children and designed custom pieces for each with consideration to minimizing body flaws as well as accommodating each individual’s resting basal temperature.  Then I just whipped them up.  And–TA-DA!–Valentine’s sweaters for each member of the class! So easy.”

2) Creative superiority “Well, I was just looking at a pile of discarded dryer lint and I thought surely there must be something to do with it. They do make darling, gossamer-like wrappers for these homemade cayenne cherry cordials, don’t they?”

3) Wholesomeness superiority “I didn’t want to give the kids sugar, obviously, so I thought a toy was the way to go. And why buy a plastic toy from China when these perfectly darling wooden cars from sustainably-harvested wood are made by the local toymaker just down the street? He donates all his profits to charity, too.”

4) Above-it-all superiority “I don’t like getting caught up in this hoopla for a made-up holiday, so I just bought some Sponge Bob Valentines from Walgreens. Who has time to worry about this stuff, right?”

I usually wrestle with one or more of these demons each year and I think I was trying to top it all this year with some sort of plan for homemade cards (#1) made with a homemade stamp (#2) and accompanying homemade, heart-shaped sugar cookies (#3).  And, of course, each of these carefully considered items would be just imperfect enough to demonstrate that they were made by the children, not the mother, and thus proving none of this was planned! It just happened! Like magic! Tee hee! (#4)

Yeah, well, you know what happened like magic? A raging, killer stomach virus happened. It started with Sam, then hit Michael, then Annabel, then me, all in such quick succession that we all took a family sick day with everyone in some varying stage of it by Monday. And that is about when I realized that Valentine’s Day was arriving in just a few hours.

In my defense, I at least have been around this block enough times to know that you never attempt to do all of the Valentines in one fell swoop.  Despite my liberal use of a cattle prod to inspire focus, my children do not have the attention span to complete that many cards in one sitting. So we at least had something produced by Monday–paint-splattered paper for Sam and stamped construction paper for Annabel.

Here, Sam, stamp that. Here, Annabel, throw some glitter on those. Here, Cherie, attempt to do wholesome post-dinner baking project with your children in-between severe drops in blood pressure. Here, Michael, take over the entire project when your wife collapses on the kitchen floor because all she’s been able to consume in the last 24 hours is one quarter of a piece of toast.

Annabel’s are the pink, Sam’s are the white, the despair is fully my own. Cookies not included, but we burnt some of them and sent them anyway, which pretty much tells you all you need to know about how little I cared about Valentine’s Day by  9 o’clock on Monday night. Which is when I finished bagging cookies and taping them to the Valentine’s, completely discarded the original plan of tying them into cute little packages with yarn.

I don’t think it was my year.

In case you were wondering, the hot-chocolate-ice-cream-cone lady totally won again.

That’s a Blow Pop flower made from handcut papers with a pipe cleaner stem.

I think I’m just going to outsource Valentine’s Day to her next year.