My mother had warned me that my boyfriend was going to break up with me, and I didn’t think she was wrong. His mother had called her with the information before he picked me up for our final date.
That is correct: adding insult to injury, both his mother and my mother knew I was going to get dumped before I did.
Teenage life can be cruel and awkward like that sometimes.
She urged me to break up with him before he could do the dumping, but I was 15, and in my romantic desperation I convinced myself that I could change my fate. Surely over the course of our movie date, I could change his obvious lapse in judgment. I tried extra hard to do my makeup just right. I picked out my outfit with scrupulous attention to detail. I made a pointed effort to be affable and easygoing as we drove to the theater, giving no indication that something was wrong.
A trailer for 50 First Dates, coming out the following month over Valentine’s Day weekend played during the previews, and I squeezed his hand saying, “We should go see that together.” He squeezed my hand back and said nothing, and I spent the rest of the movie trying not to cry. We saw Big Fish, which would have been objectively horrible even if I wasn’t anticipating a breakup for the entire 125 minutes.
When the movie ended, and he drove me home, I wanted nothing more than for him to just come out and say it was over. Even recounting it more than a decade later, I wish I could reach back in time and shake myself. Break up with him first! LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER!
Of course, that isn’t what happened. I sat there like a deer in the headlights watching the breakup train come at me slowly while honking the horn repeatedly, then let it run me into the tracks.
I think my mom, against all hope, knew I was going to do just that.
When I arrived home, she didn’t bombard me with sympathy and hugs. She didn’t even have to ask if it happened or not. She simply let me go to my room where I found a card on my bed with a dejected hamster on the front which read “I’m not happy” on the outside, “when you feel crappy” on the inside. In her neat handwriting, she had signed the card “To me, you’re worth a million bucks, but here’s 100 grand” and taped a candy bar to the inside.
It was, without a doubt, the mommest of mom moments.
But for what it was worth, it made me smile. I ate the candy. I kept the card.
Still, the breakup hurt. The next month, as Valentine’s Day approached, I was glad to have the distraction of a cheerleading competition that weekend to keep my mind busy at least part of the time. I hadn’t accounted for how difficult it would be to compete with a bunch of girls whose doting boyfriends accompanied them or at the very least called or sent flowers. I had only one person there: my mother.
I performed so terribly that there was a moment halfway through my routine when I wanted to walk off stage. I knew I had tanked already. I wanted to be done with the competition, with the weekend, the holiday, the lingering sadness of my breakup.
But of course, it wasn’t over. Since we all had given up our Valentine’s Day weekend for the competition, our coach surprised us all with lollipop bouquets and balloons. Well, almost all of us. She had forgotten only one girl, and I’ll give you one guess as to who it was.
I told my coach it was no big deal. I might have even convinced her, but my mom knew better. She left me in the hotel room as I cried (a much-needed release) and when she returned her arms were filled with chocolates and cards and balloons. I went to see 50 First Dates after all and had exactly the sort of Valentine’s Day I had wanted — which at the time only made me sadder, because what kind of loser spends Valentine’s Day on a date with their mom?
However, now looking back on that break-up and subsequent Valentine’s Days, there is no one else who would fill my heart with this type of nostalgia and love all these years later.
There is no one who would go to the same lengths to make me smile.
There is no one I would rather have as my Valentine than my mom, even if I didn’t know it at the time.