I still remember the joy I felt as Mother’s Day approached the year my son was born. Now I was a mother, too, and wasn’t this the most terrific thing! The next year I didn’t have to think about a Father’s Day gift: We brought our daughter home from the hospital on Father’s Day; she truly was the best gift possible.
But I don’t think about Mother’s Day in that same way anymore. I usually think of Mother’s Day as a requirement: Everyone must make sure they get a card and present to their mother and/or grandmother on time and remember to call that day or visit. Then there are the more difficult questions: What should I do for my aunt whose only child died at 21? Or my sister who’s a single mom and lives 3,000 miles away? Is my husband getting the cards on time for his mom or should I? For me? I just want a chocolate cake.
Times have changed, suggests my friend Christine of Oswego. She recalls how Mother’s Day really was the only day off her mom got when she was raising six children. “It literally was the one day that we tried to be nice to her and my father knew he had to get her a gift.” With today’s modern conveniences, more women earning higher salaries, and more men sharing in household duties, mothers may get a break more often than once a year.
So what is it we want?
As one colleague who didn’t become a mother until she turned 40 told me: “Every day is Mother’s Day, don’t you think? Every morning when I see them, I think it’s fantastic!” She didn’t know what she wanted for Mother’s Day. Less sibling rivalry was the first thing that came to mind. If only we could order that.
My hairdresser says there are two ways women look at Mother’s Day: One group wants to spend the day with their children; the second group wants to get away to a spa or on a girlfriends’ retreat and celebrate away from the family.
My hairdresser fits nicely into the first group. I just want cake. The girlfriends’ weekend I want anyway.
My friend Linda Loomis of Liverpool says these holidays help remind children that people in their families play special roles. Parents and grandparents are not just there to serve the child. Children need to respect and appreciate those who take on those special roles in their lives. At her church, Liverpool First United Methodist Church, she is coordinating the Mother’s Day celebration.
“Students are going to do planters and on Mother’s Day can give that plant to their mom or mother figure in their family,” Loomis says.
I saw an ad recently for a $5 pack of 10 coupons that could be filled in for services offered and given to anyone—parents or children—for future use. Examples are: “Good for one free hug,” or “Good for one setting the table.” I love coupons like these, but prefer when they’re homemade. I’d like one that says: “Good for folding one basket of laundry and putting it away.”
Christine points out that a very thoughtful gift would be to give a break to a single mother or a mother with a child who needs extra care. “I’m a single mother. I buy my own Mother’s Day gifts,” she says. Time to relax is often more difficult to find than a card, rose or box of candy. “Think about a single mother you know. Make her Mother’s Day by taking her kids so she can get a break. If you don’t have a mother, be nice to a single mom.”
Away from home as a college freshman, I was pleased when I found a delightful box of note cards to give my mother for Mother’s Day. The note cards came in a fancy flower-patterned box with a pink tassel on one edge to lift open the lid. I knew she’d recognize this was a special find, and I knew she liked nice cards and writing paper. I also knew somewhere inside that it would be one of her last Mother’s Days for she was losing the battle with breast cancer. Indeed, she loved the gift and used most of the cards. I saved the box and still use it.
I didn’t need to get a gift the next year. Maybe that’s the real reason I don’t look forward to Mother’s Day. For many years, it was a holiday I had to skip. Because, really, it’s true: Every day is Mother’s Day. And it’s important to remember and cherish those ordinary days, too.