We spend it loving, spend it splaying schoolhouse Valentines into arcs on the carpet, prancing around them in circles wearing wings.
We spend it grinning, giggling, pressing our foreheads to our children’s, conspiratorially. No one else knows, we whisper, how rich we really are.
We spend it working, for work is love made utilitarian. There is no more steadfast expression of care than rising with the dawn and pressing into day to serve and to earn for ourselves and our babies.
We spend it placing phone calls, hearing voices. Some will remain in an echoing past, never to receive the intimate attention we once bestowed with relish. Others may prove part of a hopeful future, their laughter a boon we’ve earned with our wit and our charm.
We reach for our grandmothers, aunts, sisters, mothers, thank them for teaching us how inconsequential opinions should be–even theirs, in many cases, and how there is as much dignity in being alone as there is joy in being healthy and coupled.
We hold our men–our sons, their fathers, our own–and make clear to them just how profoundly they are loved. We teach them, either through doting or measured distance, the many ways to be caring, invested, supportive.
We treat ourselves and others: soak in candlelit tubs filled with salts and rose water, take copies of Essence and Ebony’s black love issues to girlfriends, buy our own confections, compliment the ladies at the office who’ve had gifts delivered, buy a new book, watch our favorite shows, and love and love and love.
We spend it knowing. There is nothing pitiable about self-preservation. We do what we can to withstand intense scrutiny and treat ourselves with the understanding and care often denied us. We do not require society’s affirmation. We are lovable just as we are.