“I have to figure out what I’m doing for my mom for Mother’s Day.”
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that this week, I’d be filthy rich. On behalf of all moms everywhere: we don’t want to be on your to-do list.
Here’s how you can save yourself a wad of cash this Mother’s Day and bring sweet momma to her knees.
Put your heart on paper.
One-size-fits-all, and it will go right into her treasure box. She can reread it on days when she’s doubting herself or just missing you.
Take some time to sit and think about the things you learned from her.
How has she molded the person you are? What were the non-negotiables she taught you, so you knew what boundaries you needed?
What did she demonstrate in her everyday life that you now carry with you? What did she stand for? What would Mom say? What did she do that you decided you weren’t going to do? Tell her what she taught you.
Put your heart on paper.
My mom and I started a tradition a few months ago as quarantine restrictions were starting to let up a bit. She quarantined alone and was starting to feel the isolation in her bones. She was yearning for acupuncture, and he wasn’t practicing due to his own medical conditions. Mine is a best friend and a brilliant practitioner.
I kept inviting Mom up for a visit and told her that I’d be game for whatever felt good to her when she felt ready. One day, I invited her to come up for acupuncture, and, to my delight, she said yes. I surprised her by pre-paying for her first session. She was both rejuvenated and hungry for more. It’s an hour-long drive from Miami to Delray Beach, but every other week, she gets in her car filled with anticipation. What will the acupuncture treatment bring, and what will the lunch experience entail?
I take pleasure in setting the table for our meal while she takes herself to acupuncture. She then drives in a straight line to my house, and we enjoy lunch outside on my porch. (It’s all of two hours, but it fills us both up.) I call it “Wellness Wednesday.” It is a tradition born out of the desire to spend time together—time that we could count on because it was on repeat in our phone #2021.
This was a way for her to invest in her health and a way for me to shower her in appreciation. Some weeks I cook, and other weeks I have something I know she’ll love waiting. Every week it feels like her birthday. I keep her favorite coconut water chilled and our large Mason jar full of cashews and pistachios stocked. Last year for her birthday lunch, we sat outside in the driveway and ate sushi in the sunshine.
It was a sacred celebration she will always remember; we will always remember.
On her last visit, I gifted her a beautiful kimono. It came in a lovely wooden box, wrapped in a beautiful chocolate-brown ribbon. She lives by herself quite happily. I wanted her to have something beautiful to wear as she practices all of her morning rituals. It was something I knew she’d never buy for herself, and that made it all the more perfect. She was so in love with it that I decided I had to have one too; one for me, one for you. It’s another tradition we share.
Why didn’t I just wait two weeks for Mother’s Day?
I believe every day should be a celebration of gratitude to the woman who gave me life and continues to breathe it into me every single day. A few years ago, I experienced a health crisis that shook me to my core. It was as if I was an infant again, dependent on her. She tended to my every need, both physical and emotional. I was her number one priority, no question. If there was a single transgression I have ever held against her, it was wiped clean. We were forever changed by the way she showed up for me in my 56th year of life.
All of my childhood, I wanted a “chocolate chip cookie mom.” The Universe knew better and what I got was a mother who taught me about life by example. I grew up faster than my friends, and it made me wise.
She says I turned out “because of her,” and I say “in spite of her.” Tomato, tomato. Either way, I turned out. So, I make it my mission to express gratitude whenever the spirit moves me, not because the calendar tells me to.
If you want to knock her socks off, sit down with pen and paper or at your keyboard. Let the words flow out of you. Just start writing. It doesn’t have to be at the beginning. Pick a thought, or let it pick you. You can organize it later. Authors don’t write with a pen; they write with their hearts. This will be a gift to both of you.
It may feel like a catharsis as you reconcile issues that felt unfinished, or it may just reinforce what you already feel. I live for my husband’s cards on holidays. He puts his heart on paper with far more comfort than he does in person. This may be the case for you. Forget the five-dollar card from the drug store. You can do better.
As a culture, we assume that people know how much they mean to us.
Tomorrow isn’t a promise. Tell her exactly how you feel and why you are who you are.
It may not be a thank you note. But if you reach deep down into your guts and speak your truth, it will connect you in a way that is both healing and honoring.
It may be a reset for the future that you both need, or perhaps it may feel like a cherry on top if you are reminded of how good things feel.
We all just want to be understood for who we are and what we believe.
Find a way to let her know that you understand what she was trying to do for you.
I didn’t grow up with June Cleaver or Carol Brady. My mom was a hippie. I still call her a “hey wow.” We had tofu for Thanksgiving. She’d invite the piano tuner for dinner and anyone else who didn’t have a seat at a table. She regularly assisted at the EST (Erhard Seminars Training) on weekends, so I was often on my own.
In 10th grade, she had the opportunity to go to India for a month, so she went. I lived alone. It’s a different world today, but not that different.
She went to India. Her choice. Who says she was wrong? I would have missed that chance because I raised my children as my sole purpose in life. I got to go to Bali, but I waited until my nest was empty. My choice. Nobody told me to parent that way.
I was happy and fulfilled by mothering. My children knew they were (and are) my number one priority, always. I am sure there were times they wished I was in India. My choice to be so present may have come from a legacy of not always feeling I was number one. My mom faced different challenges than I did. Being a single mother wasn’t easy on a good day, but she did the best she could. I know that.
She participated in these activities because she knew what she needed. Oxygen mask on yourself first. This made her feel more whole, which enabled her to make me feel whole. It is only now, in my 50s, that I truly understand the depths of what that meant.
For most of my adult life, I craved the “chocolate chip cookie” mom I’d dreamt about having as a child. I wished I hadn’t grown up wearing a key around my neck, coming home every afternoon to an empty house. I lived a reality I would not have chosen, as did she. It has always been our work to make peace with that.
It is only now that I understand how she would have given anything to be that mom. Life didn’t offer that option to her. She was up against so much as she was working to feed me.
As a parent, I want to high five her for making it all come together. For working so hard that she could rent us a beach house at the Jersey Shore in the summer. For baking the most coveted cupcakes every year on my birthday and for hand painting our Christmas stockings. For every little thing she did that felt so big.
These are the things I remember, and I want her to know.
They will be sprinkled throughout my Mother’s Day letter, which she will cherish. (As would I.)
Keep the carnations (my kids know better); save the chocolates; forget the reservations at an overcrowded restaurant on the busiest brunch day of the year. Fill her heart with words, and she will be full until the next time you offer them.
Make a promise to yourself to honor her in ways that matter all year long.
Put your heart on paper. It doesn’t cost a thing, and it will make her feel rich. Roll it up and tie a beautiful ribbon around it.
Tuck a favorite candy or flower in to make it feel extra special.
Take a deep breath in and a deep breath out, and know you’ve done well.