Valley Parents Summer Edition: Giving Parents What They Deserve
Kinly Orr of Lebanon learns a new turn while dancing with Kristen Pearson of Hanover during the West Coast Swing Session at Lebanon High School in Lebanon, NH on April 8, 2013. Valley News - Sarah Priestap
(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 latter category. When I was younger and my children were little, if they gave me a handcrafted card and hugged me extra hard on a particular Sunday in May, that was good enough for me. Now that I’m older and my children are grown, I look forward to a Sunday phone call, but I’m not disappointed if bouquets of roses are not delivered to my front door and I am actually grateful if no one takes me out for an overpriced brunch. This Mother’s Day, if I want a mimosa (and I probably will), I’ll mix one up in the peace and quiet of my own home.
But on the flip side of that same coin are mothers and fathers who sincerely desire for their special day to be, well, special.
I once knew an indomitable career woman who confessed that she was “crushed” when her husband failed to even present her with a card on Mother’s Day. The oversight, she said, “struck at the very core of my being as a mother.” I know of women who are disappointed if the entire Sunday of Mother’s Day is not devoted 100 percent to them. They butt heads with fathers who don’t mind arranging for breakfast in bed, but then want to get in 18 holes of golf now that warm weather has finally returned.
And speaking of golf, I know of fathers who aren’t happy unless their kids sit down with them and watch the U.S. Open, the final round of which traditionally takes place on Father’s Day Sunday. There are fathers who want their kids to go fishing with them, shoot some hoops, maybe meet them for a beer when they’re all adults.
Regardless of the specifics, the desire behind each individual case remains the same. All parents want a little recognition.
I have to admit, when I was much younger, in those teenage years and into my early twenties, when I swore I would never complicate my life with the mess and fuss and total irrationality of reproduction, I considered Mother’s Day and Father’s Day a form of commercial exploitation. It was a capitalist profit scheme foisted upon a complacent population by a conspiracy among the greeting card industry, flower growers and restaurants. I still think it’s a pretty sweet deal for certain segments of the economy. But I can’t tap into the same vein of resentment that was once so close to the surface of my psyche.
Parenting is a joy. The laughter that small children bring into our lives is a priceless gift, as is the companionship that develops between children and parents as they grow older together. But those benefits come at a price. Being pregnant for nine months is a tremendous physical strain. Giving birth is both a miracle and something of a horror show. Nighttime feedings are sweet and exhausting. Proms cost money. Volunteering at the parent teacher organization costs time. Trips to the emergency room can stop a parent’s heart, as can the price tag for a year of college.
Sure, parenting is a pleasure, but it is also a lot of work. Done properly, it requires a selflessness that can approach sainthood. Who among us can’t think of at least one parent who has sacrificed his or her all for the well-being of a child?
So I’ve softened in my stance about these parental holidays. If we know what parents really want on their one special day of the year, let’s go ahead and give it to them. One way or another, they deserve it.
Diane Taylor can be reached at 603-727-3221 or firstname.lastname@example.org.