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National Editorials & Columns

Simply thinking about buying a Mother’s Day gift is maddening

No gift could possibly adequately say thank you for the gift of life. Never mind thanking your mother for the nine months of pregnancy.

Or the 36 hours of labor.

No, I’m still stuck on how I can buy a gift that says thank you for the very breath it takes me to say thank you. For simply being.

That’s why I, like so many others, inevitably would give up and send a bouquet.

“Thanks for the life, Ma. As a token of my gratitude, I’ve committed genocide on a flower field. Love ya lots!”

I miss the days when I didn’t have to think about Mother’s Day, when simply crafting jewelry out of dried macaroni would do. Not to brag, but I’m pretty much the most phenomenal noodle artisan you ever will meet.

Now look at me! Talent wasted. I’ve been told that as you age, your cheapness loses its charm. I figure that if I’m going to give my mom the ingredients to an Italian dinner, I had better be cooking it and serving it to her. But I don’t want to punish my mom on Mother’s Day. Trust me; the dried culinary art probably would taste better than anything I could muster up.

Despite my supreme confidence in my Picasso-esque ability to use a glue stick to attach linguini to a paper plate, I always found it remarkable how excited my mom seemed whenever I presented her with my, uh, let’s call it art. It didn’t matter if I traced my hand with a crayon, poured glitter into a water bottle or attempted to whittle a self-portrait out of a dried apple. All were appreciated; all were relished.

One Mother’s Day, I bought my mom a blue shirt and leggings and proceeded to cover it with fluorescent-colored puffy paint and bedazzle it with different-colored plastic gems. And bless that woman’s heart, my mom wore that outfit for so long that in that time, I grew self-aware about my own lack of talent and went from being pleased my mom wore the gaudy outfit to being embarrassed on her behalf.

But that was before I became a mom.

A few months ago, for my birthday, my 7-month-old son’s caretaker covered a big piece of pink construction paper with his handprints. She wrote, “Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you.” My heart swelled. My tears flowed. It was the sweetest present I ever had been given. My son didn’t make the art himself. But I cherish that card as if he had. The true gift was in seeing what my little creation took part in creating for me.

That silly card made me realize my mom wasn’t giving an Oscar-worthy performance by masking her blue spandex embarrassment all those years. She truly was proud to be wearing what her little creation had created for her.

I cannot buy anything that adequately thanks my mom for all the amazing things she has done for me over the past three decades. But I can make her a killer dried macaroni necklace. And I can send it in a card with my traced handprint that reads, “Happy Mother’s Day. I love you.”

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