The Joan Zone: How to change a life on Valentines Day

Published 8:16 am Thursday, February 9, 2017

By Joan Graves

Sun Columnist

To me, Valentine’s Day has always seemed to be some rip off holiday concocted by the greeting card and candy companies of America. Then the florists jumped on the bandwagon. Yet, for a commercial holiday, it has an absurd ability to make people feel bad about themselves.

I for one, refuse to buy into the negativity. After all, not one single Valentine’s Day has ever made me feel more or less loved than I did the day before.

Statistics show the majority of marriages will not last once a special needs child is born. Statistics further show it is decidedly more difficult for a single parent of a special needs child to find love again than it is the average single parent. That is a lot of disheartening facts that make me want to skip Valentine’s Day. But is that the answer?

If you could spend less than $5 and improve someone’s day would you do it? What if you could take $10 and give someone an entirely new perspective on life, fill them with hope and make them feel loved, would you do it? Sometimes the cost of mending a broken heart is less than we spend on getting our nails done so why aren’t we doing it?

We don’t do it because we don’t understand exactly what it means. Parents of special needs kids expend so much energy and love into every hour of every day that most have forgotten what it feels like to have love in return. Unfortunately, many special needs children lack the basic ability to show love to their parents. All those murmured “I love yous,” suffocating hugs and sticky kisses are not par for the course for every parent. Many of us go our entire lives never hearing a profession of love from our child despite the tireless effort of love we give each day.

On days we don’t like to think about, let alone actually talk about, we find ourselves wondering what it would be like to just be on the other side for once.

For those without a spouse, those days are the hardest. Not only are they not receiving any feedback on the love they give to their kid each day they have no companion to express love to them. For them, Valentine’s Day is only a reminder of everything they don’t have.

So, I’m asking you this Valentine’s Day to make a difference for someone else, to love the parent who pours out love on a child and gets nothing in return.

Tell your significant other that you don’t want the yearly flowers that wither and fade. Instead, you want to give them to a special needs parent who will keep those flowers blooming in their heart all year long.

Take that chocolate you’re going to try to work off in the gym and give it to the parent whose money is so tight that chocolate is a delicacy. And if you can’t afford any of that then simply go to Dollar Tree, buy a card and give it to that parent who only gets medical bills in the mail. Take this Valentine’s Day and invest in a life.

Joan Graves is the mother of a special needs child and lives in Clark County.