The only time everyone in my school was happy on Valentine’s Day was in 3rd grade, because in 3rd grade Mrs. Chatterton made sure that either everybody got a valentine, or damn well nobody got a valentine. By middle school we’d all matriculated into that fickle world where unconditional love is no longer supervised, and you’re just as likely to get left behind. Candygrams and paper hearts stuffed in shoeboxes and lockers – they make and break our adolescent dreams.

Fast forward to Valentine’s Day, 2015, and if you’re a single parent like me, you’re ambivalent about the empty shoebox. You love your kids, but you’re not quite sure about being home with them tonight. All those googly-eyed celebrations are getting on your nerves.

You could just write a check to Amnesty International and write off the whole thing as some kind of political protest – after all, chocolate, roses, diamonds and gold are all blood-stained commodities. Or, because this is the Internet, we can make a list. Herewith, ten reasons to celebrate that you’re not on a Valentine’s date:

1. Drink practically as much red wine as you like—at least after the kids go to bed—and lie to yourself about the health benefits. So many lies will be told tonight that yours won’t even move the needle.

2. Rediscover the literal Total Eclipse of the Heart. Enjoy the full measure of sarcasm without suffering a hint of deflating irony.

3. Revel in the fact that you have time to read more Mallory Ortberg. (Good chance she’s way more entertaining than that date would have been.)

4. Think of how much time and grammatical angst you saved by not re-reading those endlessly over-sharing and under-achieving online dating profiles. And you didn’t have to fake your own death to get out of a date. (Though your wrist could be a bit sore after all of those swipe-lefts. Put an ice pack on that.)

5. Do some Taylor Swift karaoke! Perform her entire catalog and really revel in the teen angst. (You too, menfolk. If you have a daughter of any age and haven’t opened yourself to the preening pop power of T-Swizzle, you owe her a family sing-along. She’ll never forget it.) Follow with a goat chaser.

6. Sock away the cash you saved. According to a survey from the National Retail Federation, the average Valentine’s celebrant is expected to drop $142.31 this year; 1 in 5 intend to include the family pet in the festivities. With children and no sweetheart, you’re already in the black. Or, hey, splurge a little: get nickel rolls from the bank, one for each family member, and spend V-Day teaching your kids blackjack and poker. If none of them show promise as card counting savants, that still leaves $120 and change for the college fund.

7. Stay safe. Valentine’s Day is the bully of holidays. It has to be true—HBO said so!

8. Watch When Harry Met Sally with your kids and devise, on the fly, an age-appropriate explanation for your child about the deli/orgasm scene. However old they are you’ll be laying a fine foundation for the healthy discussion of human sexuality. And however old you are the mental gymnastics should be enough to forge new pathways in your brain.  (A double feature with Frozen is not recommended; Sally’s special moment would truly melt poor Olaf. )

9. Rejoice that nobody, anywhere, even thought of giving you a 50 Shades of Grey Teddy Bear.

10. Celebrate with your kids. Make comfort food and heart-shaped sugar cookies and tell them stories about all the best and worst things that love has ever wrought. While you’re at it, tell them that you’re not out there this weekend because never, ever, will you settle.

Bonus: if the next morning you awaken with that hollow, didn’t-have-a-date feeling, you can always send your enemies glitter. Careful — that link is Australian, and we suspect the import tariff on glitter is hefty. Since you’ve got kids you can easily subcontract and save yourself some bank. Which is important, because there is a lot of chocolate on sale today.

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Photo by  Jamie Street on Unsplash


Erik Ness has been writing about science and the environment from Madison, Wisconsin for more years than he cares to disclose. His work has been published widely, from Discover and Prevention to CURE and Milwaukee Magazine.

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