The Mother’s Day de­bate: Stay in or go out?

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - LEANNE ITALIE

NEW YORK — Les­lie Young is the Cal­i­for­nia mom of four kids 9 and younger. For her, Mother’s Day is far from serene.

“Just be­cause it’s Mother’s Day doesn’t mean the nurse, chauf­feur, chef, jan­i­tor, hair stylist or ac­tiv­ity co­or­di­na­tor get the day off,” she said of all the hats she wears.

In fact, her Mother’s Day will be­gin the Satur­day be­fore, when she’ll or­ga­nize a gath­er­ing for her own mom, then a Sun­day, after-church af­fair for her mother-in-law, typ­i­cally in a fancy restau­rant around Carls­bad, north of San Diego, where she lives — and the 36year-old Young con­sid­ers a fancy restau­rant “noth­ing short of a cir­cus.”

“I would love to spend Mother’s Day at home, where my kids can run amok and it doesn’t mat­ter be­cause no one else is there to judge me,” she said.

Sorry, Les­lie, but do know that you’re not alone.

Stay­ing home for Mother’s Day versus go­ing out for a spe­cial meal is be­fud­dling for oth­ers as well, and es­pe­cially fam­i­lies with small chil­dren. On the one hand, yay! Fancy out­ing. On the other hand, yikes! Who’s got the en­ergy and wants to spend it chas­ing lit­tle ones around a restau­rant? And it’s not al­ways just about lit­tle kids around white table­cloths and spill­able drinks.

Denise Wilson, 47, has two teens, 13 and 15, and still wants out of the restau­rant out­ing for Mother’s Day. In New York, where she lives, that usu­ally means a hec­tic chase for a reser­va­tion, long lines and huge crowds. This year, they’ll head to their week­end house in East Hamp­ton on Long Is­land for re­lax­ing, fam­ily fun.

“Life is su­per hec­tic and not be­ing be­holden to a clock or hav­ing to make a de­ci­sion, and en­joy­ing sim­ple and re­laxed mo­ments, feels al­most a luxury,” she said. “It’s es­sen­tially a week­end of no obli­ga­tions. My hus­band will cook.”

An­other New Yorker, cookie-baking en­tre­pre­neur Zeno­bia Dewely, builds her fam­ily’s col­lec­tive sweet tooth into her Mother’s Day. For six years, the 44year-old mom of three — ages 18, 16 and 12 — has been on the op­po­site end of the Mother’s Day spec­trum.

“I look for­ward to go­ing out with my fam­ily ev­ery year,” she said. “We have an Out­back and Dy­lan’s Candy store tra­di­tion. We usu­ally get ice cream and then we dip straw­ber­ries, ba­nanas and rice crispy treats in the choco­late foun­tain.”

Liz Vac­cariello, mom of twin girls and edi­tor in chief of Par­ents mag­a­zine, hears a lot from read­ers on the stay home versus go out Mother’s Day front these days.

“I of­ten hear that Mother’s Day is more stress­ful for moth­ers than you would think,” she said. “Of­ten, they are caught be­tween cel­e­brat­ing their own mother, their mother-in­law and some big shindig that their hus­band might have planned. I’ve had read­ers tell me that they’d en­joy a pass on the day, just stay at home and be with their chil­dren for some quiet time. It’s rather coun­ter­in­tu­itive, but I’m hear­ing this more and more.”

Vac­cariello said her favourite Mother’s Day hap­pened sev­eral years ago, when her girls were 5. Her hus­band packed a sur­prise pic­nic and they passed the day in a park near their sub­ur­ban New York home in New Jersey, just hang­ing out and eat­ing grapes, cheese and bread.

“It’s one of my fond­est memories,” she said. “Bet­ter than any restau­rant.”

Kari Catuogno, 40, shares the feel­ing. She has two boys, 5 and 3, and de­scribes the in-orout de­bate this way: “It’s like flying first class or on the wing of a plane! A real treat is just let­ting me sleep in, wak­ing up to my favourite Star­bucks and giving me as much time as I want for a shower with no in­ter­rup­tions. Heaven!”

In Alexan­dria, Vir­ginia, Amanda Pon­zar is still mired in the de­bate. She has two boys, 5 and 9, and neph­ews who are 3 and 5. Her sis­ter-in-law and her own mom know one thing — they don’t want to cook come the May 14 hol­i­day.

“A restau­rant with four very busy boys is a mess and has­sle. We’ve tried buf­fets, Chi­nese restau­rants and oth­ers be­fore. The boys can’t sit still, or if they do, gob­ble their food and half of it ends up on the floor,” said Pon­zar, also 40. “They eat too much dessert and then after 10 min­utes are itchy and want to run around.”

As for a fancy restau­rant, well, “I can’t re­mem­ber what that’s like,” Pon­zar said.

They’ve dis­cussed let­ting the men grill, but that doesn’t solve the en­tire prob­lem, she said. “The ladies still get left with sides, dessert, etcetera, and han­dling the kids on Mother’s Day, plus who is wash­ing the dishes and clean­ing up the mess? Now we’re talk­ing about get­ting pizza or some other easy take­out food. This is what it’s come to!” So what does she re­ally want? “For them to bring me a Star­bucks venti mocha light Frap­puc­cino and call it a day. Of course, it’s nice when the kids make a card,” she added, “as long as it says, ‘You’re the best mom in the world,’ not ‘Mom I hate you.’ I have cards that say both.”

Many moms just want a quiet day with the kids, good cof­fee and a home­made card.

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