What is the best way to celebrate a truly Happy Mother's Day? The trick is knowing Mom well enough to see what is the most meaningful way to say thank you to HER.
I'm a Mom who has a Mom and Mom-in-law. Whenever Mother's Day approaches, I experience stress, not relaxation. Why? Because every year I worry about whether both Moms will be disappointed once again, because they will not receive the visit they wish they were having from my family. No matter what my family has planned for me on Mother's Day, I find myself feeling guilty that I didn't plan something that included our Moms.
"They're grandmothers. You're the mother now," my husband says sympathetically.
"But they don't stop being mothers to us," I hear myself say.
Both Moms appreciate being recognized on or around Mother's Day, which has been impossible for us to do in person for many years now, since we moved 2.5 hours away. It was easier before we had children, when we lived less than a half hour away from both of them. We popped in for brunch with one and did an early dinner with the other one later in the day. Both Moms were happy to get a visit from daughter/son-in-law and daughter-in-law/son. But ever since I became a Mom, I realized that I want to be available for my kids to celebrate within our own little family unit. I secretly hope I can be completely useless to them during the entire day, free of chores and anxiety of any kind.
One year, I just wanted the entire day to plant petunias, impatiens and marigolds in containers on my deck. I remember enjoying a visit from a slinky red fox who wandered into my backyard that afternoon. Another year, we enjoyed a walk and picnic as a family at the Connecticut College Arboretum. We picked up sandwiches and drinks from Subway and brought along our cameras. I still admire the photographs we took of the various trees, flowering bushes and water lilies on the pond that day. My favorite photos are the off-center pictures the children took of me with the blue sky in the background, shot from their vantage point below. Another time we decided to see the new flick Iron Man followed by a sushi dinner, my favorite. It didn't matter what we did. All I cared about was that I was with my family and that I didn't have to cook, clean, drive or nag anyone to do anything.
So where does that leave Moms of adult children? Someday that will be me, when my children have become responsible for themselves and their husbands and their own children. Hey, wait a minute. That's the key. They will be responsible for themselves, their husbands and their own children! That means as a grandparent someday I will not have the same need to receive a physical break from incessant family rearing, shuttling and household chores. I would still want the acknowledgement though. I would want to know that they care about me and recognize all of my efforts through the years, to help them become the best that they could be. I would want to know that they still needed me in their life in some way, whether it be for advice or just someone willing to listen.
So make your Mom happy on Mother's Day. Show her that you thought of her and appreciate having her in your life even if you live far away. You don't need to pack the kids' suitcases and drive 200 miles just to have brunch with her for the day. Maybe it is a beautiful arrangement of flowers because she never buys fresh flowers. Maybe it's a video chat so she can see how big the children have grown. Maybe it's a comfortable new fleece throw emblazoned with her favorite family photo. Maybe it's a membership to a fruit-of-the-month club because she's trying to cut back on chocolate and sweets. Maybe it's a book of Cross Sound ferry tickets so she'll be encouraged to visit you and her grandchildren often. Maybe it's a home-made card signed by every member of the family, even the dog.
If you live close enough to set aside a part of the day for a personal visit, you will surely surpass all of her expectations. Take her to brunch, lunch or dinner. Take her to the movies, to a show or to a ballgame. Take her to the salon, to the park or to the museum. Have her over for a slice of pie and a cup of tea and pick her brain about her past. She would love to tell you stories. If you are inclined to include her in your family's plans, by all means invite her to tag along!
The simplest and most legendary gesture you can make is by submitting your favorite photo with her on the Patch's Mom and Me Photo Contest, right on the home page. Tell the world why you think she is the best Mom!