Ahhh, love. As yesterday was Valentine’s Day, it’s sure in the air. I’ve been seeing a lot of posts in my social media feeds all about what dads should do for their wives in order to show their daughters how a man should treat them. I was preparing to write all about how I find it important to let my daughter see me buy flowers for Husband, and I will, but just for a minute.I have known Husband for 21 years now. We started dating and were together for only a few months before I was a complete idiot and called it quits. Luckily, since we were in college and had started to travel in the same social circles, we were able to remain friends. To make a long story short, we wound up together. 16.5 years and happy as can be. There have been bumps, but every night when I fall asleep I know that he will be there to love me in the morning, even when I’m a fool. Husband is unusual compared to what sitcoms would have me believe about men, and he likes some things that I didn’t expect. He loves beer, but will drink something pink in a silly glass if it contains things he likes to drink. It doesn’t other him in the slightest. He also enjoys receiving flowers. Because of this, I buy him flowers just because from time to time. I don’t make a big deal of it, but he deserves to feel special and loved. I also bring home other things as gestures of my affection. Most of the time, I make sure that Daughter sees these things. While I agree that those posts in my Facebook feed encouraging fathers to let their daughters see what they do for their wives are important, I don’t ever want my daughter to forget that love can be shown by both the parties of a long term relationship. Know what your partner loves and spoil them from time to time; they see you at your worst and they don’t leave. When Daughter asks me, “Why are we buying Daddy flowers today?” I respond with this, “Is there any reason not to?”

So, I had this post idea all planned out. Then I thought twice. Although I think what I’ve written here is true, and I think the other pieces I’ve seen on the subject are true as well, I think there is a better place to start. Before I teach Daughter to take care of her “other” (man or woman or whomever), I want to teach Daughter to take care of herself. I want Daughter to buy flowers for herself, too. There’s a lot of literature out there on learning to love yourself. Frankly, it’s not something I could ever really share wisdom on, because it isn’t something I’ve been able to accomplish. What I can talk about is learning to take care of yourself and treating yourself and making sure you show love to your body and soul and mind so that they might be well. A smart friend of mine has labeled these activities “self care.”

When I was in the classroom and feeling down, I would make sure to bring flowers for myself that week. It brightened up my workspace and reminded me to breathe often. Self care for me was also weekly yoga practice, which was one of the only times in my life when I felt like I was truly caring for my body. I made sure to talk to Daughter about how important I found both of those activities so that she would understand that taking care of me was first and foremost my own responsibility, that I could not only rely on Husband to “fix” me, and that she herself was not responsible for making me feel good. I am responsible for my own feelings, body, joy, sorrow, pain. I will make sure to persue what leads me to bliss, as long as it is also what brings bliss to my family. There is balance to be found, and we can achieve it.

While I desperately hope that Daughter makes a wonderful partner some day, and an even better mother, I hope more than anything that she makes a better custodian of her own self. I hope she loves herself and succeeds where I have failed. And I really hope she buys herself flowers.

Originally posted on Elephants in the Room