Saturday, May 7, 2011

Why not Parents' Day?

Jennifer Graham hits a home run with this essay on Mother's Day written from the perspective of a divorced mom. She poignantly describes the effects of divorce and exposes some of the falsities of our society's views on raising kids. I love the way she describes how a modern two-parent family works.

Why do so many men give cards to their wives, who are not their mothers, on Mother’s Day? It is the marketplace’s acknowledgment of a truth: that Mother’s Day is not possible without Father, even if he, at some distant point in the future, is glaringly absent when the family gathers at the Doubletree for the Mother’s Day buffet.

It is interesting — and revealing — that we have Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but no widely celebrated Parents’ Day. Society undervalues the pair. Their children, however, do not. To young children, it is the combination of the two that matters most, far more than two individuals.

A mother and a father working together, raising children under one roof, make up a third, distinct creature, which I liken to the pushmi-pullyu of Dr. Doolittle lore. Hugh Lofting’s pushmi-pullyu is a beast with a head on each end, and so it is always awake. When one end is weary, the other is alert; it is a model of what a mom and a dad, together, should be. But divorce kills the parental pushmi-pullyu, and the more bitter the circumstances, the more dead the vital beast.

To children, for whom their parents’ divorce is an agonizing mystery, resurrection is always desired, if only so that Dad would be around this Sunday to do the dishes and carry the tray. In a republic run by children, divorce would again be illegal.

So true! Don't get me wrong. I'm all for honoring mothers. Since becoming a parent myself I have so much more appreciation for my mother. I just have less and less tolerance for these Hallmark holidays. How about we take Graham's suggestion and save us all some money by combining mother and father's day into Parents' Day?

OK, me and my 2-year-old are off to shop for Mother's Day!

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