Flowers, candy and Hallmark cards are nice, but there something you can do that’s absolutely free but will go for miles in terms of goodwill and stronger relationship with mom this year: What all moms want on Mother’s Day is acknowledgement and appreciation all that they do and have done for their family.
This Mother’s Day, make a list of all the things you appreciate about your mother. You can type it up, write it on a grocery shopping list, draw a picture around it, or just scratch it out on a piece of notepaper. The actual physical medium irrelevant.
Here are five simple categories of things that your mom has most likely done for you, whether recently or in the distant past. Even if you already thanked her for some of these, feel free to thank her again – extra thanks are always appreciated! And chances are there are many other times she did something like that for you when you either didn’t realize it or didn’t remember to say thank you. Better late than never, so now is your chance!
Mom probably spent an enormous portion of her life in the car chauffeuring you from one place to another, whether it was to soccer practice, scout meetings, birthday parties, or to the mall to meet friends. This was time she could have used to work, run errands, clean the house, or (here’s a thought) take a nap, get a manicure, or do something else for herself. She might have grumbled about it from time to time but whenever possible, she said yes and got behind the wheel.
If you have kids, and you’re lucky enough to have your parents living at a reasonably close distance, you know what a blessing it is to be able to call and say, “hey mom, can you come over and watch Jack for a couple of hours on Saturday while I take Suzi for a haircut?“ Over time it saves you a ton of money and babysitting fees, you know your kid is in good hands, and it builds an oh-so-important and lasting family bond between grandparent and grandchild.
3. Saving your bacon
Ask yourself: how many times did mom either let you off with a warning or bail you out of a pickle you got yourself into? While your parents probably came down on you pretty hard when you had some of those teenage (and even not-so-teenage) lapses in judgment, they were other times when they could’ve gotten you in major trouble with the other parent but ultimately covered for you, or didn’t rain down fire and brimstone like you might have deserved.
I remember when I was 18, the summer after high school graduation. My parents had gone away for a week for their anniversary, and I was home with my brother, waiting tables. One day I got a speeding ticket on the way to work (8 miles an hour over the limit… Small town!) I tortured myself for the next four days until they got home, absolutely sure they were going to kill me.
When they got home, I confessed and show them the ticket. They looked at me and calmly mom said, “Well, you’ll pay the ticket of course. Did you learn your lesson?” I nodded. “OK, don’t do it again,“ was all that came out in the end. I think they already knew I had punished myself more effectively than anything they could have come up with, but I was very grateful.
4. Saying “Yes”
At some point, mom has agreed to let you take advantage of an opportunity that you really wanted, despite her preferences or comfort. Whether it was going on a ski trip with a friend’s family, being allowed to stay home on your own for the first time, getting a car, or going to a particular college, it was hard for her to say “yes,” but she did anyway.
For me, in college I spent my junior year studying abroad in Japan. My parents were not experienced international travel, they didn’t speak Japanese and my skills were limited at the time, and we had no contacts there, so they really, REALLY, we’re not a fan of this idea, especially since it was a year-long program and not just a semester. But I prevailed, and with their hearts inevitably in their throats they put me on a plane and sent me halfway across the world.
In the end, it was the best experience I ever had to date, and changed the course of my life‘s work. I also know it set them back a bit financially, which they never truly let on until much later. Again, I am forever grateful.
5. Moral Support
When in doubt, the one thing all moms can be thanked for is love and support. Is or was she your confidant at some point? Did she give you a peptalk when all hope seemed lost? I know my parents never quite understood my desire to go back to graduate school at almost 30 years old, or why took me until I was 40 to meet my husband. Nevertheless, they never lectured me about my biological clock, gave me a guilt trip about their lack of grandchildren, or nagged me about “getting a real job” while pursuing my PhD.
They may not have agreed with all of my choices, but they always supported me and trusted that there was a reason for my decisions that would eventually work itself out. There’s enough societal pressure on these issues, so getting support from my parents or having them not having them add to it was really important to me.
I’m sure there are thousands of other things that your mom has done for you that are worth mentioning, many of which you may realize more clearly now that you have kids of your own and are now in the “mom (or dad) roll” yourself. But knowing that you appreciate all of these things and are willing to tell her to her face, give her a hug and kiss and tell her that you love her, is the best gift any mom could ask for.
Happy Mother’s Day to all!