The Ultimate Mother’s Day Gift


You need to find Mom a Mother’s Day gift. The perfect one would be nice, but every year this eludes you.

Eldest Supreme and Small One. Original oil painting, Madonna and Toddler by Steve Henderson.

I mean, what do you give this woman who bore you in the midst of great pain — whether in a delivery room with too many people milling about or by the phone, waiting for a voice on the other end to say, “We have a baby for you,” or whatever her own unique experience of anticipating, longing for, and finally bringing you into her heart was.

And once you were there, you carved a great big space, but that was easy, because her heart was soft and malleable where you were concerned, even though she could be most unreasonable about your coming in two minutes after midnight (Why was she always up? And how is it that the rest of the household could fall asleep?)

You know, she never has forgiven that child, so many years ago, who didn’t invite you to the class birthday party. I think she talks with the child’s mother, but only politely, when they run into one another at the grocery store.

More than once, Mom embarrassed you dreadfully during the regional swim meet, when you could hear her yell over the crowd’s roar, every time your head came up for air. You came in seventh.

College Girl. Original pastel portrait, On the Verge, by Steve Henderson

“You’re always a winner in my book,” she said.

So what do you get this woman, who loves you just because you are who you are, who isn’t afraid to tell you that you behaved rudely back there, but in the next breath gives you that look that makes you feel safe and panicky at the same time?

A cruise? Mom more than anyone knows that you’re not made of money. If you seem in danger of forgetting, she reminds you.

A card? Is that too cheap? She always taught you to be generous and to invest your life in people, not things.

Flowers? Dinner out? A phone call? Socks? Books? A gift certificate?

Yes, that last one’s good. But a gift certificate to where?

Maybe I can make this easier for you. If you want to know what to give Mom, start by realizing — fully and completely — what she has given you.

And what she has given you is your freedom to fly, little fledgling, even though what she wants more than anything is to be with you, be near you, be a part of your life forever and ever. That little girl and little boy — newborn, six-years-old, pre-teen, fifteen (do you have any idea how difficult you were at fifteen?), the young adult off to college or a new apartment or a job — but away — for the first time — all of those people still reside in her heart, and there is room, so much room, for the rest of you.

But she lets you go, because there are two things she wants for you more than anything:

The Son and Heir. Original oil painting, Youth, by Steve Henderson

She wants you to be happy. That’s why those 11 p.m. phone calls, the ones after the big breakup or the job loss or just because you’re agonizingly lonely — are so hard on her. Don’t get me wrong — she wants you to call, but it would be nice if, a week later when things are back to normal, you let her know?

And she wants you to be good. That’s what she raised you to be, you know: a caring, thoughtful person who speaks gently to animals and squats down to listen to children at their eye level. Although she pushed you, all those years, to keep your grades up, it really doesn’t matter to her if you’re a doctor or a writer or a grocery store clerk or a lawyer (an honest one, mind you!) or a nuclear physicist or an artist. Do you make the world a better place because you’re in it?

She does, you know, or at least, your world.

Tired of Being Youngest. Original oil painting, Grace, by Steve Henderson

Tell her you love her. Call her, if you live far away. Write her a note, if you write better than you speak. Get together for dinner, if you’re close. And stay close, in your hearts, however you can, as much as you can. That’s what she wants more than anything in the world.

Mom, I love you. You let me go, but held me tight.

Progeny of mine — I love you.

Deeply. Unreservedly. Unabashedly. Joyfully. Eternally. You are my ultimate mother’s day gift.

This post is linked to NerdWallet, Deep Roots at Home, Raising Homemakers, Our Simple Farm, Next Generation Homeschool, Holistic Squid, Wholehearted Home, Mama BZZ, Teaching What Is Good, Simply Helping Him, Above Rubies, Growing Home, Hope in Every Season, Island Traveler, Tasty Traditions, Gnowfligns, Thank Your Body, Leaving a Legacy, Little House in the Suburbs, Small Footprint Family, Our Heritage of Health, Fresh Bites Friday, Happy and Blessed Home, Life as We Know It, Nourishing Joy

7 Responses

  1. Carolyn I absolutely loved reading this post!! Just this week I was trying to figure out what to get my mom. And yes even considered many of the examples you noted above but couldn’t come to a conclusion. It’s rather hard to explain to someone how grateful you are for all that they’ve done for you and thank them in some form of a monetary gift. It has to be more than that, not just a simple gift, and not something we only think of once a year during this week… Mom’s are beyond amazing and you’re explained it exactly as it should be.

    1. Thank you, Vanessa — I am glad that the article resonated. As a mother myself, I can say with full assurance that your mom delights in YOU, far more than any thing you can imagine or purchase. Yes, it’s hard to fully express our attitude to our mothers, but as you observe, it’s something that doesn’t have to fit into one day a year. We moms want so much more than that!!!!!!

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  3. Stephanie Pfahl

    Loved the story of your non-broody hens! We also researched our chickens before we bought them and ended up with Aracaunas. They haven’t behaved in a broody manner yet (this is their third year), but we don’t have a rooster, so even if they became broody, nothing would come of it! Your Mother’s Day Gift brought tears to my eyes. My eldest son has graduated college and moved three hours away. His college was ten hours, so this is an improvement, but I miss him so! Lovely story.

    I landed on your blog from Cuddlebug Cuties Sunday party.


    1. Hello, Stephanie — thank you for your kind and warm comments — it’s a good way to start a Monday! We had Americaunas once, which I think are a variation of Aracaunas — loved those pretty green and blue eggs, and we had a couple go broody and raise some chicks, some successfully, some not (any breed of chicken isn’t known for its razor sharp intelligence).

      You have my intense thoughts and prayers this morning for comfort in the feelings of absence and emptiness in the fledgling flight of your son. Believe me, I know this feeling — gladness that they are succeeding, constant concern that someone has said or done something to make them feel bad, a longing to talk to them and just be in their presence, a fervent hope that somehow, life’s circumstances will allow you to remain close — geographically would be nice — throughout your lives so that your relationship can grow and deepen through the years. Our society is a rough one, in that it not only fractures our extended family, but splits apart the nuclear one as well. My ultimate hope lies in heaven, where we will never be parted, never be sad, never be away from the sensation, feeling, and sheer experience of love.

      Thank you for finding me — I hope that you will be back, and that you will pass me on. It is my joy and desire that what I write can give meaning and hope to the people who read it, and if I have done this for you, please keep in touch, and please let others know. — Carolyn

  4. Island Traveler

    A beautiful post that celebrates a mother’s love and that of her child like no other. Full of gratefulness, admiration and warm thoughts to makes one’s heart melt. Happy Mother’s Day.

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