Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Mother's Day (is for *real* women only!)

With Mother's Day coming up, I've been thinking about the gifts I used to give - and ones I've received. I am convinced that one of the most amazing things a mother does is keeping a straight face anytime she is presented with gifts from small children. And from grown-up husbands.

When I was a kid, I gave my mother those sweet little gifts that melted her heart. One time, I gave her some perfume that could have melted nose hairs. Usually, my gifts were things made at school and constructed of popsicle sticks and cotton balls or something. Mothers really do cherish those things, you know. I know because I received the same types of gifts from the nieces I helped raise.

One year, one of my nieces (who was about 8) got her mother a gigantic bottle of perfumed bubble bath from the Dollar Store. Vanna was so pleased with her purchase that she couldn't wait to give it to  her mama. The rest of us couldn't wait to see the look on her mama's face. Like I said, mothers are amazing in their love for their kids. My sister-in-law actually used that bubble bath.

My two nieces have given me gifts that gave me rashes ("perfumes" and makeup), damaged my clothing (a gigantic ceramic brooch), and made me the object of giggles and envy (when I proudly wore that big old brooch to work). My sister got a tray of eye-shadows once that came in colors so hideous I'm not sure how to describe them. She wore them just as proudly as I wore my brooch. She got a rash on her eyelids that took days to go away.

Those gifts that come straight from the heart of a child are perfect - until that child is old enough to carry around a cellphone or ask for curfew extensions. Then it's time to get real.

I'm no gift expert, but I'd really like to throw out to the kids and dads some alternatives ("Better") to "The Usual" gift ideas:

The Usual: that random perfume you picked up without knowing if Mom will like it.
  • Better (for hubby): how about getting her a fragrance she's mentioned only a couple thousand times? 
  • Better (kids): Help dad pick out that perfume that Mom has been talking about when he wasn't really listening all the times she mentioned it.
The Usual: those little handmade "coupon" books you threw together at the last minute because you, well, waited until the last minute.
  • Better (hubby): coupons for things Mom will really appreciate - like helping with dinner, putting down the toilet seat, doing the grocery-shopping -  or whatever it is you know she likes but you haven't been doing. 
  • Better: (kids): coupons for her not to have to tell you to clean your room or help with the other housework. You could even make a coupon book for yourself with reminders to tell your mom you love her, to give her a big hug sometimes, or to just not always be such a smart aleck when she's trying to give you advice. You could even add a reminder to let her know that not everyone is lucky enough to have a mother like her.
I won't go on and on (like I usually do), but you get the idea. Basically, I think most moms would appreciate the gift of a really good  pillow. Or maybe that's just me!

Happy Mother's Day to all the women out there. Not all of you have kids of your own. Sometimes, people don't even recognize you with a special day or title, even though you were a big part of the village that helped raise a child. Some of you are auntie-moms, sister-moms, neighbor-moms, helped-out-moms, or step-in-moms. Whoever you are, if you have ever loved a child with your time, advice, prayers and encouragement, I'm glad you were there.