Every year since I’ve been with my wife, including when we were dating, she has gone out of her way to make some great Valentine’s Day gifts by hand. These gifts are typically hand made and well thought out. Usually planned months in advance, and quite honestly blow my gifts in return out of the water, as I am not the biggest Valentine’s Day guy. She self admittedly does this as much or more for herself, than she does for me. My wife is incredibly crafty and loves making handmade crafts, however, tasked with being a power mom, house and schedule manager, cooker, cleaner, and runner of most tasks, and crafting falls by the wayside. Valentine’s Day allows for her and her sister to get together, drink wine, and make crafts by hand. The end result often leaves me feeling pretty bad and slightly guilty about the generic card I got from the store. This past Valentine’s Day was different.
Both our cups were flowing over, schedules were hectic, and the sister, wine drinking date never came to fruition. In an almost apologetic manner, my wife kept advising me not to expect anything like past gifts and that her idea was “okay” but not great, and thrown together at the last minute. For me, this was good news because I was feeling less guilty about my V-Day shortcomings with each reminder. Valentine’s Day came and nearly went, and no gift was given until late evening when I walked into our master bathroom. As I walked into the bathroom, taped to the mirror, 54 heart-shaped post-its in the shape of a large heart. Each post-it started with “I love that” or “I love when” or “I love how,” followed by a thing that my wife loves about me or something I do. I began to read through the list of traits that she had listed on the mirror, and I could see through the spaces between each heart I was visibly smiling. Some were light-hearted about some inside joke, and some were deeper, maybe about the way we’ve handled personal moments together. By the time I had finished, the gift that she had proclaimed to be hastily put together had quickly become one of my favorites of all the gifts that she’s ever given me. You see, many of the things that I was reading I’ve never heard her say out loud before. It was a deep insight into the things that we do for our loved ones that are often observed, appreciated, and then glossed over due to the fact that the four-year-old has to be at dance, and I have to be at work, or teaching or the yard needs to be mowed...dinner is ready...etc… This simple gesture of handwritten notes on obnoxiously pink heart-shaped paper let me know that I’m being observed, noticed, and appreciated. It then hit me. My wife is not the only person watching me and making post-its of me. I know in my head that I’m trying to be the best husband, father, friend, employee, business partner, and teacher that I can possibly be. And though I fall short often, my efforts are there and appreciated.
I left those notes up for nearly three weeks until they started to peel and had a hard time sticking to the mirror. (not to mention it was time for some Windex in between those notes) I didn’t leave them up for my ego, to remind me of how great I am. I left them up as a reminder to go into each Day and earn those same appreciations. A reminder that people are watching, observing, and making post-its about me. I am a father of two, husband, employee, teacher, and son, proudly. The decisions we make that make the most impact on the people we touch are often not the ones we make when those people are watching, but rather the decisions we make when the camera isn’t looking. There is a trickle-down effect that happens when we are always trying to do the right thing. Be a better, more disciplined human who tries with all their effort to make the right decisions even when no one is watching. And when we fail, and we will, how do we learn and respond differently. The trickle-down effect will shape who we are when those that matter are watching. Who is watching you? Who is taking notes? Your spouse, partner, kids? Perhaps you’re a teacher, coach, or boss. I ask, what do your post-its say about you? If you like what they say, remember to wake up each Day and earn every damn one of them again, and new ones if possible. If you don’t like them, start now and change them. I’m not for a minute trying to say go into the world and worry about what every stranger that you run across thinks about you, lord knows I do not do this. I am saying, go into the world and care about how YOU think of you. Care about what those that are the closest think of you.
My wife eventually took the post-its down, laminated each one of them individually and placed them in a small bag for me to keep with the gifts of years past. But I continue to look at them from time to time as a reminder to earn my post-its. I strive each Day to make more. Thank you to my wife for noticing my efforts and putting up with my fails. I love you.