With Mother’s Day right around the corner, kids and husbands everywhere are scrambling (often last-minute) to find just the right gift for Mom, trying to show their love and appreciation for the best woman on earth.
I laugh when I see those Pandora or Kay Jewelers commercials peddling gold charms and diamonds for Mother’s Day. Beautiful? Yes. Coveted? Not so much.
A Real-Life Mother’s Day Wish List
The truth is, most moms I know don’t want gifts that you can buy in a store. Instead, they want the simple things in life, like sleep, privacy, peace, cleanliness, harmony, and cooperation. Let me give you a few practical ideas.
Gift #1: Let Mom sleep in.
Seriously, this is not the day to cut the grass at 8 a.m., slam the bathroom door, blare the soccer game that you recorded on ESPN last night, practice your armpit farts, stand next to Mom and stare at her to see if she’s really sleeping, or loudly whisper outside Mom’s bedroom door, “SHHHHH! MOM IS SLEEPING!” No, Mom was sleeping before you all woke her up.
Gift #2: Buy breakfast and make lunch and dinner.
If you’re going to treat Mom to any meal today, feed her addiction to Panera Bread and make an early-morning coffee run. More importantly, do this before Mom wakes up because she’s a bit of a bitch if she’s got to wait 20 minutes for some caffeine. While you’re at Panera getting Mom an extra-large travel mug of hazelnut coffee, grab bagels for the whole family, and set everything up on the back porch table so you can all eat outside together. (NOTE: Do NOT wake Mom to tell her that breakfast is ready. This is counter-productive to Gift #1.) For lunch, keep it simple and just make a big salad or some sandwiches. For dinner, skip the raucous restaurant filled with lots of other noisy families. Just work together and make dinner while you bring Mom a glass of wine and a good book to enjoy on the back porch. (It wouldn’t hurt to give her a five-minute shoulder rub either.)
Gift #3: Adopt a WMW philosophy.
Mom is bone-tired from making hundreds of family decisions every day, so don’t burden her with even one choice today other than “do you want another glass of wine?” (And of course, you already know the answer to this, so keep pouring.) Instead, adopt a “What Mom Wants” (WMW) philosophy when you stumble into a decision-making quandary. For example, not only does Mom not want to cook any meals on Mother’s Day, she doesn’t even want to think about what to cook—even if you’re doing the cooking. (Frankly, after all these years, you should know a few of Mom’s favorite foods. Dip into your memory bank, think of what Mom orders when the family goes out to eat, and BOOM, there’s your answer. It’s not rocket-science, people.)
Gift #4: Maintain a conflict-free day.
No fighting over video games, chores, whose turn it is to do something, who put the six-inch scratch on the side of dad’s car, who gets to eat the leftover Chinese food, who broke the sprinkler head again, who left the bag of pretzels open from last night, or who used the TV remote last because now no one can find it. If you absolutely cannot help yourself (which is very likely), know that Mom can still hear you if you try to whisper-fight in the next room. Instead, retreat to the car with dad, lock yourselves inside and let dad referee your verbal battles so Mom doesn’t even have to hear it.
Note to kids: It doesn’t make Mom feel good when you fight about whose turn it is to do something nice, as in, “I just got her a glass of water, so you take the newspaper to her.” “No, it’s your turn. I just ran upstairs for her reading glasses.” “That’s not fair, why do I have to do everything?” Mom now feels like a big fat burden, so let’s not fight about not wanting to do more than your fair share of nice things. Kinda kills the moment.
Gift #5: Pick up the slack.
When Mom takes even one day off, the state of the house takes a quick nosedive. The sheer volume of daily messes that Mom needs to pick up, step over, or avert her eyes from overwhelms her. Would it kill you to throw in a load of laundry, hang up your towel, replace the toilet paper roll, unload the dishwasher, put away your soccer cleats, throw away the empty bag of tortilla chips, wipe up the milk you spilled on the counter, cap the toothpaste, or rinse out the sink after you spit? It’s all in the details, people.
Bonus Gift Idea: A small indulgence wouldn’t hurt.
With all that being said, Mom wouldn’t refuse a Massage Envy gift card or an exquisitely good bar of sea-salt-caramel-filled dark chocolate that she doesn’t have to share. Just sayin’.