Harlow is beyond excited for Valentine’s Day today. She’s been talking about it for a solid week. Her teacher sent out a notice last week about their class Valentine’s Day party and said that everyone should bring in a Valentine for each classmate. To make it easier, she said they only had to sign their name on each one and didn’t have to address it to each kid.

It’s worth noting that Harlow has never had a class Valentine’s Day party before because she went to a Jewish preschool and they didn’t celebrate it.

Mazzy, however, has had Valentine’s Day parties in school for the past three years and every year, I find it near impossible to get her to sit down and write out each card. Mazzy has always been the kind of kid who puts together a few Valentines, gets bored and then wanders off while I’m left to make the rest myself. Then, after the Valentines are all done, I have to convince her to “JUST FILL OUT THE TO/FROM PART!!!!”

Even getting her to do that is work in itself.

Harlow is another story. I bought DIY Milkshake and Fries cards (which were a lot more involved than I was expecting) and Harlow was intent on making each one herself. I had to beg her to let me help. WHICH I NEEDED TO DO OR ELSE THERE WOULD BE GLUE EVERYWHERE. Not only did she want to glue them all together on her own, she wanted to take it an extra step and embellish each completed card with original decorations. When I told her that she also had to sign her name on every one, she didn’t bat an eye. She just did it. And she told me that she wanted to make three more than twenty required for her classmates— one for her teacher, one for the assistant teacher and one for herself.

When 9:30pm rolled around and I commented on how much time she was putting in, she said, “Some people mess around and make a mess. They don’t care about their friends. I do.”

My initial reaction to that was, “Oh my god, my child is the sweetest most caring friend ever.” But then, after letting it roll around in my brain for a moment, I think that was actually Harlow taking a subtle dig at her big sister. Mazzy had completed four cards for her closest friends and then ran off to hang out with her dad in the other room while I finished gluing the remaining 17 cards together. Then she came back, complimented my work, and filled out the to/from part with no complaining.

In fairness to Mazzy, she was not required to bring in cards. We asked her teacher earlier that week if the class was doing anything to celebrate Valentine’s Day and she said, “Anyone is free to bring in cards but it’s optional.” I was happy Mazzy chose to continue the tradition.

And I guess, part of Mazzy’s tradition is relying on Mom’s help.

Her cards were DIY mix and match animals and my favorite moment was when Mazzy gave them all names. I couldn’t believe how quickly she came up with terms like mercaticorn, uniphant and zebramaid.

Harlow finally finished her cards and I have to say they were worth the wait. They looked thoughtful and special and like the true labor of love Valentine’s cards were meant to be.

This morning, Harlow ran into our bedroom, excited to wish Mike and me a Happy Valentine’s Day. She was upset when she realized I was already up and getting ready for the day. She made me get back in bed and pretend to be sleeping so that she could come in and give us the Valentine’s Day greeting she had planned.

After a little Valentine’s Day gift exchange (I had left two little pink bags on Mazzy and Harlow’s spots on the couch with a pink squishie, a rainbow heart marker and a Kinder egg inside), the girls went to pick out their outfits for the day. Harlow was determined to pick out the fanciest outfit possible. “It’s a VERY SPECIAL DAY, Mom!” she kept telling me.

She picked out a black dress with the oversized sequins and then tried to pair it with her red sequined hoodie from her hip-hop recital last year. Mazzy informed her that it didn’t match.

“Valentine’s Day is all about pink and RED, Mazzy. THIS IS THE RED.”

After putting the hoodie on (which looked ridiculous), Harlow realized it was too itchy and changed her mind. (The hoodie is unlined and we had covered it in baby powder for the recital so she was able to wear it. I can remember the pre-powder tantrum as if it were yesterday.) Harlow finally agreed to wear a pink cardigan instead and put on heart sunglasses to bring the outfit to the next level.

She also wanted to wear Mazzy’s hand-me-down pink flats with hearts on the toes, but they were a little too big and fell off her feet when she walked. She insisted though, because how can you NOT wear pink flats with hearts on them on Valentine’s Day? We compromised and she put them in her backpack to change into when she got to school.

After initially saying that she would not wear anything Valentine’s Day themed (which was fine with me; I’m wearing black today), Mazzy made the surprise decision to wear a pink t-shirt with a shiny silver heart on the front. She didn’t let me take a picture and quickly covered it up with a heather gray hoodie, but I swear this happened.

When we dropped Mazzy off in class, everyone had brightly colored homemade folders with their names written on them and the kids were busy distributing their cards. I guess in third grade, Valentine’s Day happens before class starts instead of interrupting a work day. Still, the smile on Mazzy’s face and her eagerness to dole out her own cards tells me— she’s not too cool for V-Day quite yet!

When Harlow arrived in class, I noticed that every girl was equally as fancy as she was. There were hearts and sequins and sparkly pink fabrics all around. Harlow hugged her friends, exchanged compliments on their outfits and then put her Valentines in her cubby. They were going to have a more official party later that day.

Then Harlow gave me the best Valentine’s Day present of all. She was so excited to get onto very important Valentines Day business, she literally pushed me out of the classroom. I walked down the hall but then she called, “Mommy!!!” and ran after me. As I’ve talked about before, Harlow has a lot of separation anxiety at drop-off and calling after me is usually not a good thing.

She caught up to me, hugged my legs and gave them a kiss. Then she said she wanted me to kiss my face. I bent down and she gave me a big long kiss and said, “I wish I could kiss you forever.” Me too, Harlow. Then she turned around and ran back into the classroom, taking another classmate’s hand along the way.

It doesn’t matter what happens the rest of the day. My Valentine’s Day is already made.