Baskets of flowers. Day spas. Brunch with questionable dices of ham interspersed with mayonnaise concoctions. Sound familiar? Welcome to American Mother's Day 101. For the legions of Generation X mothers out there, Mother's Day might present a problem — it can get downright depressing. It's great to get the homemade cards from the kids, but who instructed them that your personality was branded by Walmart? What if your mother is not a Hallmark card? What then?
Know Your Mother's Taste
Just as we are always claiming our kids are special and unique, so are our mothers. Don't be fooled by the advertisements in the mail and on the side of your Facebook page. Spend some time looking around the house. Do you see dead house plants she's neglected to water? Don't buy another potted flowering plant for her to kill. Are there gardening projects in the corner by the door from two years ago? Don't add to the pile, even if it is May and the world of advertising is telling us we should plant things. What does she really need or want?
Some of the Best Gifts Are Free (Or Almost Free)
This is not always true, but rarely do kindergarteners have disposable income in increments above twenties. So, for the broke child set and the significant other that is begging for a new electronic toy for Father's Day but is budgeting $25 bucks for Mothers Day, here are a few great ideas.
1. Vow of Silence
Suggest to the kids that a great present for Mother's Day would be no one asking a question for 24 hours. No questions. They can't even ask why the above statement is so important. Tell the husband and kids there are more than one adult in the household, if there are more. Silence is golden. Put a giant poster board next to the fridge that says, "It's underneath the last place you put it," or "If you picked up more, you'd be able to find it," or just "Behind the milk carton."
2. Clean House
Everyone cleans their own room and bathroom and makes the house look like no one lives there. Make Mom feel like she's walking through a giant Ikea maze. Here's a great Mom Day treat — someone else cleans the toilet. Moms aren't the only ones who use the toilet but somehow usually are the sole cleaners of it. Boys, practice good aim.
3. Manage Your Own Schedules
Older kids can help manage their own schedules for the day. Perhaps they can take the younger ones to the park down the street or do something outside so that the house is quiet for 15 minutes — just so mom can know what it feels like.
4. Finish a Project
Every household has a project somewhere left undone that the project fairy is supposed to come and finish. Be the project fairy for your mother. It will put a smile on her face whenever she passes the area of the house where the project is just sitting, gathering dust.
5. Buy Gifts of Service
It's a rare mother indeed who would turn down the opportunity for someone else to do something for her. Does she hate mopping floors? Hire someone to do it. Does she hate yard work? Hire someone for the day to do it. Also, consider hiring someone cute so she can gawk at him from her window of her clean, projectless, house.
5. Gift Certificates
Where does she want to shop but doesn't because she thinks it is too expensive? Don't give her money, as more than likely the guilt will set in and she'll wind up buying cleats for one of the kids or she'll use it to put gas in the car. ModCloth and Fluevog would both be amazingly fun places for her to buy something to wear that doesn't have the look of "I'm a Mom. I have given up" all over it.
Mothers are notorious for putting themselves last in line for everything. Is mom a coffee drinker? Get her some really good organic coffee and instruct that she doesn't have to share with anyone. Is mom a whiskey drinker? Nothing says "I love you, Mom" like a 12-year-old bottle of whiskey. Whatever wine you were going to buy, take it up a few dollars. She's your mother, for goodness' sake! Buy the pricey wine. For those pint-size kids, perhaps an airplane-sized bottle that dad can pick up and tape to the homemade card.
At the end of Mother's Day, do you want the restrained smiling mom who assures that whatever you bought from Home Depot was just fine, even though she doesn't know what it is? Or do you want the relaxing-in-the-tub mom who is forever grateful and happy at the family she has made? The choice is yours.