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Valley Parents: Mother’s Day and Father’s Day; The Best and the Worst

Valley Parents: Mother’s Day and Father’s Day; The Best and the Worst

Most of us have modest hopes for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day: a token gift, a little pampering, and maybe some time to ourselves. But like everything else with kids, these simple plans can often turn out either much better or much worse than we expected.

Arlene Charet of Canaan, whose children are now grown, still treasures a special Mother’s Day gift from long ago. “My husband had a pendant made, with all four of our children’s birthstones on it. Now my daughter has one with her children’s birthstones, too.”

A gift doesn’t have to be fancy to be special: a homemade card is always appreciated — especially when it manages to capture what makes our kids uniquely themselves. Thalia Wheatley, of Hanover, mother of Isaac, 7, and Kate, 6, received a special piece of artwork from her daughter a few years ago. Wheatley asked her to describe what she’d drawn. “She said, ‘Well, that’s you and that’s me and the sun is shining and the sky is blue and the clouds are white and fluffy and the trees are green and the flowers are many, many colors.’”

Wheatley pointed to the figures in the picture and asked what was between their legs. “We’re peeing!” her daughter announced.

“We still have the picture,” Wheatley says.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be even more meaningful when the holiday coincides with the birth of a child.

“One of my kids was actually born on Father’s Day,” says Glenn Davies, of Plainfield, whose children are now grown. “That’s a memorable way to celebrate!”

Gulsanga Agha, of Hanover, says that her daughter Khadeeja, now 6, was born just three days before Mother’s Day. “To celebrate the day and our new baby, my husband made me brunch — far more elaborate than anything I’d seen him cook before,” says Agha, who also has a son, Hussain, 9.

“He worked really hard to make it special. And it was delicious!”

A fancy meal is a popular way to treat parents on their special days. Amy Hochreiter, of Hanover, mother of Lily, 4, and Lucy, 3, says that breakfast in bed is a Mother’s Day tradition at her house.

“My girls always make me chocolate chip pancakes,” she says.

Sometimes, though, breakfast in bed can be more trouble than it’s worth. Joan Reiss, of Lebanon, says that when her son was a child, “he and my husband would make me breakfast in bed. But then I spent half the day cleaning up the kitchen.”

A gift of food can backfire in other ways, too. Kelly Ciombor, of Hanover, remembers a Mother’s Day when all she wanted was fried chicken. “I was pregnant with my second child,” she says. “And I had this crazy craving for fried chicken. My husband made it for me from scratch, but the second I smelled it, I started throwing up.” Ciombor, mother of Maya, 6, and Alexis, 3, says that she can laugh about it now, but “I felt so bad about it at the time.”

Sometimes, what Mom and Dad really need for the day is a little time to themselves. “My fondest Mother’s Day memory is when my husband and kids gave me a spa day,” says Michelle Spaulding, of Hanover, mother to Caleb, 13, Jenna, 10, Autumn, 8, and Wyatt, 6. “I got a massage, a pedicure — the works. It was great.”

John Abramson, of Lebanon, whose children are grown, remembers, “The kids would always get me a new lure for Father’s Day — and then I’d go fishing and have a little peace and quiet.”

There is such a thing as too much peace and quiet, however. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are times to celebrate the very idea of parenthood, and to appreciate parents for all they do the other 364 days of the year. Not getting that appreciation can sting. One woman, who asked that her name not be used, tells a sad story about her first Mother’s Day, when everyone from her husband to her own mother simply forgot about her.

“No one even wished me a happy day,” she says. “It was years ago, but I still remember how crushed I was.”

Perhaps the secret to a successful Mother’s Day or Father’s Day can be found in the perspective of a mother of four sons. Barbara Abbate, of Hanover, mother of Liam, 13, Angelo, 9, Teddy, 5, and Hugh, 2, says that “as long as no one’s sick or injured by dinner time, I count the day as a win.”

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(Editor’s note: To explore this edition of Valley Parents, scroll to the “related stories” section at the bottom of this article.) ■ I figure there are two types of parents: those for whom Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are terribly important events in the life of the family, and those who could basically not care less. I fall into the …