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

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


Valley Parents: Chemical Concerns During Pregnancy

Friday, March 8, 2013

When Kristina Aldrich opened Vivo Salon and Day Spa on Mechanic Street in Lebanon in the summer of 2008, the danger that toxic chemicals might pose to the fetuses of her female employees — and of her own children yet to be born — was not on her mind. A first-time business owner, Aldrich had a building to renovate, supplies …

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

Friday, March 8, 2013

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 …

Valley Parents: 10 Cool Things To Do This Summer

Friday, March 8, 2013

There are numerous reasons we all feel fortunate to call the Upper Valley home. Among those are the abundance and variety of recreational programs available in our communities throughout the year, but especially during the beautiful summer months. It would be impossible to list them all in one place, but here are 10 of the best. 1. The Hartland Recreation …

When Teenage Angst Isn’t Enough

Friday, March 8, 2013

James Murdza and Mikey Fernandez became friends fast. After meeting only 10 minutes prior, Murdza, 19, had learned a lot about 7-year-old Mikey, including that he goes to Thetford Elementary School and he loves to play tag. Both Murdza and Mikey have shaggy brown hair, and as the duo sat cross-legged on the Ray School gym floor, Mikey looked like …

Valley Parents: Where Do Kids Go in the Summer? Working Parents Look for Child Care Options That Mesh With Busy Lives and Multiple Needs

Friday, March 8, 2013

When the temperatures rise and school lets out, working parents in the Upper Valley face the perennial challenge of finding places to send their youngsters for the summer months. It’s a juggling act that can test the managerial skills of even the most organized parents as they try to figure out where, when and how to afford child care options …

Valley Parents: Librarians Get Ready to ‘Dig Into Reading’

Friday, March 8, 2013

With summer vacation approaching, children are anxious to put the worries of classes and homework behind them. For many youngsters there is the overwhelming “no more pencils, no more books” mentality. Meanwhile, parents there is the worry that two months with too little reading and too much TV and too many video games will make the start of the next …

Getting in Shape for Life, Not Just for Summer

Friday, March 8, 2013

I came out of the gym after my first boot camp — and really, my first exercise of any kind in 6 months — feeling sweaty, sore and exhilarated. Then I looked at my phone. I had missed several calls from my husband, Chris, and my son Sam’s day care, and had increasingly frantic voice mails wondering where I was …

Valley Parents: Valley Quest; The Solar System

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Solar Quest was an artist residency project involving the integration of art, science, math and language arts. The project was conceived and implemented by science teacher Paul Dunne, art teacher Cynthia Cummings-Birch and sculptor Emile Birch. The eighth grade students at Indian River School in Canaan worked throughout the 2008-2009 school year with Emile Birch to create a scale-model …

Valley Parents: Kids Calendar

Friday, March 8, 2013

May 4 Ballet Folklorico in Hanover: 11 a.m., Hopkins Center Plaza at Dartmouth College. Celebrate Cinco de Mayo by dancing along with Dartmouth College’s traditional Mexican dance group. Free. 603-646-2422. May 4 and 5 Sheep Shearing and Herding in Woodstock: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Billings Farm & Museum, Route 12 North. A weekend to watch the spring shearing of ewes and …