What moms really want for Mother’s Day can’t be bought

Just six more shopping days to Mother’s Day. Have you gotten your gifts yet?

Wait, let’s take a step back. Put down the wallet and realize that there’s more to this day than can be wrapped up in a bow.

Sometimes Mother’s Day feels like a day that Hallmark invented that never will measure up to that standard. No matter how perfect a day you plan for yourself or the mother in your life, something will happen. Someone will get sick. Someone will whine. Someone won’t be able to find the mayo in the fridge when it’s clearly in front of their face. And someone will treat it like it’s any other day.

Nicole Villalpando celebrates her daughter’s bat mitzvah last year with her mother, Tina De Stephen. Carol Calvery/For American-Statesman

My expectations for Mother’s Day have slowly diminished with each passing year of being a mother. It started with the first year when my husband didn’t realize that hey, our 4 month old couldn’t really go out and buy me something, much less say, “Happy Mother’s Day.” It was all on him. And boy, did he blow it. He’s much better now. Breakfast in bed? Yes, please. A quiet day with nothing that I have to do. Sure thing.

And I’m much better now, too. I set my expectations incredibly low. It’s not about the day. It’s about the life, the kids who sometimes remember to say, “I love you” or “Thank you, Mom.”

When in doubt, there’s always the pets who have unconditional love for me. After all, I’m the thing that’s between them and death because I show up and feed them and love on them, even if technically they are all my children’s pets.

So, I reflect on this old column that I wrote in 2012, six years ago — before the kids were teenagers. So much is still true, but, of course, I have a few more thoughts to add. It comes with the gray hairs brought on by having kids in middle school and high school.

 

Greatest gifts to give can’t be bought
This Mother’s Day, after breakfast in bed, give Mom something she really wants

 

What I really want for Mother’s Day isn’t material:

I want peace in our universe. Could you please stop fighting over things like TV time, computer time, who breathed on whom, who touched whom, who is annoying by merely existing?

Give me the gift of open conversation. Know that my door is always open no matter how busy I am. Know that there is nothing that you cannot tell me. A grunt or a shrug doesn’t really count as talking. And, please, leave your room every once in a while.

Be the best you can be. You don’t have to win a Nobel Prize or an Olympic gold medal, but you do need to find something you love and do it.

Give me the gift of a vision of the future. Let us all understand that right now is right now. Middle school and high school will soon pass. All the heartaches of these teen years, the struggles, the frustrations won’t be forever. What will be forever is our relationship. Help us remember that as we’re arguing over whether or not Algebra is something you have to do.

Do not embarrass me or yourselves. I hope I have done my job and raised you to be moral people with common sense. Please don’t do anything stupid that ends in a phone call from jail.

Grow up to not need me. Honor me best by becoming self-sufficient, honorable members of society with jobs you love and eventually families you love.

Want to be with me. I want our time together to be meaningful and enjoyable now, and, in the future, I don’t want you to only visit me because you feel obligated. And, when the time is right, please, put me in a nice facility and don’t feel guilty because you can no longer care for me at home.

Most importantly, love me. Know that I will always love you, and that’s not just a song. Please appreciate the choices I have made with your father to give you the best start in life we could give you. Know that we are human and surely disappointed you, but we really, really tried. When you become parents, you’ll understand that we did our best.

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