May 8, 2016

Mother's Day

Lookin' pretty good at 40!
Is it just me, or did Mother's Day come super early this year? Well, I know it's not just me because everyone around me has said the same or agreed when I said it. It snuck up so fast it was pretty much too late for me to have something shipped to my mom, and I don't like wasting money on shipping that I could be putting towards a gift anyways. I only even knew it was Mother's Day because of another blog that mentioned it!


I try to do something creative and thoughtful every year - partially because my mom is so difficult to buy for (and mostly because she's worth it). She's not your average mother who likes manicures, massages, teas/coffee, or even fresh flowers. Anything within my price range she probably already has, or doesn't need, or can acquire herself at a garage sale. She has a very artsy taste in jewelry and clothing, but it's difficult to know if she would like something even if it's similar to something else she's pointed out that she likes because she's, well, picky. At the end of the day, she usually would be happy with just spending quality time together, especially now that I live several hours away - but this year she went out of town to her own mother's house to join her sisters in spring cleaning for my (almost) 95 year old grandmother. Long distance Mother's Days are especially difficult.

Last year, I wrote a list of 50 reasons why she's the absolute best - which made it stressful to top this year after how much she appreciated it. I technically stole this idea from a friend but I figured she wouldn't mind since it was for a good cause (and let's be honest, a pretty basic idea that has to be totally customized).

I plan to continue filling in this journal (which has a picture of a mother/daughter on the front in a style that reminds me of Seurat) and giving it to her when its full. The worst part of this, like I said, was trying to top it. No one wants to downgrade their gift-giving. I was about to give in and settle for the thoughtless gift card approach to somewhere she loves when the light bulb in my head finally went off.

During our trip to California last summer, we revisited the park my brother died in at age 19 during a rock climbing accident. We went there the summer I turned 15 only to learn upon our return that we had been in the wrong spot. My mom was given the idea to leave something behind, so she brought a painted rock we had written a few words on and glossed over. I blew up one of these pictures onto a 16x20 stretched canvas, and only afterwards did I realize she may not want to do anything with it, seeing as it was a "sad" gift. But my mother is different - she likes to memorialize things. She likes to remember. She keeps their picture and his Navy flag right on the sofa table when you enter the house. So she was appreciative when I sent her a picture of her gift, reassuring that she loved it, and I sent it back with my friend Catherine who visited this weekend.

I don't feel like a fake when I rave to everyone about my mom on Mother's Day. She truly is my favorite person on Earth. And I've never met anyone grittier - she's been through so much. She was in an abusive marriage with a very mentally unstable man. She lost her firstborn child when he was 19 in a horrific accident. She struggled for 12 years to finish her college degree while she raised three boys. Two of her children have been diagnosed with an incurable autoimmune disease. She's been used emotionally and financially, she's been mistreated and taken advantage of. She's a teacher and she gives her life helping not only her students but everyone around her. She takes very little time for herself (much due to her being an unbeatable grandmother). I couldn't have grown up alongside a better example of how to fight your way through life, which isn't always fair to us. You could meet her and never for a minute guess all of the things she's been through.

A couple of other gift ideas for the mom who doesn't want traditional gifts: I once wrote a poem in which I compared her to a lighthouse, alongside gifting her a wooden lighthouse. She told me about cracker jacks being her favorite snack as a kid, so I bought a box and sneakily traded out the prize for a ring I had bought her. Think hard about how to cherish your mama on this day! She deserves effort. She puts up with you, after all! I can't give you the answers, but bounce these ideas off in a way that reflects your mom's spirit.

If I could be half the mother my mom has been, I think I'll do okay.

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