Mother's Day Gifts (Not What You Think)

Inundated with emails about the best Mother’s Day Gifts? What to buy to tell the mothers in your lives that they are “the best mother ever?” As much as I sell great gifts and fun ways to acknowledge women for being the rock stars they are, this year I am taking a slightly different approach. (Except for perpetually promoting my book.) Rather than an email to get you to buy more, I just want to take a moment to talk about two of the greatest gifts, forgiveness and gratitude.

Daughter and Mother

Fifty seven Mother’s Days of being a daughter and twenty four Mother’s Days as a mother— I feel so fortunate to have both to celebrate.

Mother/child relationships are layered with history, life, moments, joys, grief with years piled into opportunities to reflect. Mother’s Day tries to remind us to wrap it all up into one neat day.

It is impossible to wrap up a lifetime of experiences in one day. Mother’s Day has the power to evoke all sorts of emotions. We evaluate where we are with our own mothers and if we are older empty nesters, we look back on our lives as mothers.

My mother in 1970.

My mother and I have had our share of trauma and disruption, but over the past five years, we have made peace. Of course, Covid challenged physical visits the last couple of years, but I was finally able to fly down to see her this past month and we had another great visit.

I love that we have made peace and even more that I realized peace was possible before it was too late. This is a gift— recognizing, forgiving, and moving forward. Simply allowing the past to live where it is supposed to live, in the past.

Most of us know that the present is all we ever have, but our minds try to direct us to old worn paths that no longer serve as they try to hang on for dear life. I have learned that there is no time like the present to make amends.

Let It Go

What has moved us forward is letting the old pain go. Letting go of judgement and criticism and replacing it with empathy and gratitude. Empathy for trying to understand her pains in life and gratitude for what is working, rather than focusing on what didn’t, hadn’t, wasn’t. I have found this approach to be a much kinder way to navigate my own life. I feel calmer and more peaceful and this has been my directive. I want to feel good as often as I can.

When I focus on some of the gifts I received as a daughter, one has most definitely been the love of home, decorating, rearranging, enjoying my own personal space. My mother has always made her space beautiful. Great dishes, silverware, lovely pots and pans to cook with, beautiful art work. My home is my grounding place and Dave, my former husband, and I have both enjoyed raising our son together and apart in each of our homes filled with their own versions of joy and beauty.

Bittersweet Mother's Day

This Mother’s Day is a little bittersweet. It will be the last Mother’s Day I have my son living at home with me. Since he graduated college during that fateful year of 2020, he has lived home with me to save money. He is not the stereotype of a kid who lives at home, jobless, playing video games all day. He got a great job right out of college and it was a chance to save money so he could look to buy a place, rather than rent when the time was right.

The time being right has been the magic question. The market has been impossible for our grown children to find a place that is within reason. We live in a high tourist area of Rhode Island. I can see the water from almost every place I look so finding a place to buy in this market has been a wild ride of frustration and daily defeat.

When Michael first started looking for a place to buy, I tried to be encouraging. I threw my positive affirmations out to him like a baseball trying to land in his eager glove, “Michael just keep saying the perfect house is on its way to me.” Whether he did this or not, I don’t know, but this has worked for every place I have lived. Since my early days of marriage and my later days of separation and divorce, the perfect living space has always found its way to me.

For Michael, he was picky. Dave and I were too when we first started looking for our first home way back in 1989. The freedom Michael had though was that there was no pressure or urgency other than his own desire to be on his own. He looked, he had a lot of help too. And then finally, like magic, the perfect place, in the exact neighborhood he dreamed of living in appeared and he closed on it March 31st.

The Joy of Home

Home is the place that can give us so much visual joy. My house is filled with joy. Despite the rocky road my own mother and I have had, I am grateful to say that this is the past. As he begins his new path, he is beginning to poke around my house now as he considers his new life as a homeowner.

We have begun gathering the items I will pass on to him. I haven’t been too sure he would want any of the massive collection I have accumulated from my years of saying yes to all things sentimental. The other day he said, “Mom, I am going to need some art so can I have the Abraham Lincoln picture?” It is a gigantic etching of Lincoln sitting around the table as he was preparing to sign The Emancipation Proclamation. It was one of the first pieces of art I bought for our first home newly married.

The frame is as beautiful antique as the etching and frankly all those years ago I bought it more for that than the etching not really knowing my history like I do now.

I realized in his request that I have passed on my love of home because he has lived inside it for his life. It is part of who he has become as an adult.

Our Gift to Our Children

A client and I spoke of this experience we both had in common as a gift to our children, one last gift to be able to pass on to our children. Allowing them the opportunity to have a place to live for them so they can save money for this exact moment. For me this is one of the best Mother’s Day presents, to know that I did a good job as a mother that I provided for my son and that Dave and I did this as committed parents despite not doing it in the same house.

I don’t need a tangible gift, or even a card this year. Knowing my son is moving to a home and that he has used all the gifts, tangible and intangible, that Dave and I have given to him. First homes are amazing, and for my son to be able to buy his own place at twenty four, his Dad and I are, as we say in RI, wicked proud.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you Mamas out there. It is not always about the cards, and gifts, as nice as they are, sometimes it is just the chance to reflect on the work you have put into Mothering and being able to say, Yep I did that. I helped make a great human.

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