I was watching television the other day when an ad came on informing me that for this Mother’s Day, “smart phones trump flowers”, suggesting that in order to show your mother how much you appreciate her, you need to give her not flowers, but a smart phone. Another ad on another day shows women being presented a bouquet of flowers for Mother’s Day, their mouths open in what at first seems to be a display of joyous surprise but slowly morphs into a yawn, suggesting that truly loving families wouldn’t bore their moms with the same old dull gesture, but instead, should treat her with an edible bouquet of specially cut fruit on sticks (complete with exorbitant price tag – nothing’s too good for Mom on Mother’s Day!).
I’ll tell you what I would like for Mother’s Day. It’s not a smart phone or an edible bouquet, not designer perfume or a Pandora bracelet bauble. Not even flowers.
On Sunday, I don’t want gifts, large or small. I don’t want anything that comes from a sense of obligation, from a rote “today is the day we make the effort” sort of thing. That’s not for me. If that contrived ritual benefits anyone, it benefits my family, lets them off the hook, gives them the sense that they have gone through the right motions to fulfill their obligation to convention. Not that I wouldn’t appreciate whatever effort they want to make, but it’s not really what I want. What I want is much simpler.
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All I want for Mother’s Day is for someone to look me in the eye – to really look at me, to see me – and say, “Mom, you done good.” I want to know that even though I’m not a very good cook and am a terrible housekeeper, that even though sometimes I’m incredibly clueless or obtuse or simply insensitive, that even though I sometimes lose my temper when I shouldn’t, or raise my voice when I shouldn’t, even though I snore (supposedly) and too often forget things I should have remembered, even though I fall short in ways both big and small, that in my kids’ eyes, that in my husband’s eyes, I’ve done good. That they are glad I’m their mother. Not out of a sense of obligation, but out of a genuine appreciation for who I am and what I have done, what I have tried to do, in my role as mom.
I want acknowledgement.
Oh, and having someone else make dinner, that would be nice, too.
That’s it, honestly. Flowers fade and die, cards get looked at then recycled, food gets eaten and then forgotten, but acknowledgement warms the soul for days and years to come. (Honestly, I remember moments of unbridled, genuine acknowledgement as clear as a bell, even when I can’t remember where I put the car keys or whether or not I made that doctor’s appointment that’s been long overdue.)
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So if your mother is anything like me, forego the flowers. Heck, don’t even give her a card and a “thanks for being my mom”. Instead, give her a hug, a big one, unsolicited, unasked for, unexpected. And while you’re giving her that hug, whisper in her ear, “You know, I think you’re a great mom.” Acknowledge her. And mean it.
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There’s no better Mother’s Day gift you could give.