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Becoming a mother made me love mine even more

My grandfather, a father of six, had a unique tradition. Every year on his birthday, he drove to his mother's house and brought her flowers. My mother, his middle daughter, was so impressed by this ritual that years later, after she herself had become a mother, she began adopting this practice. To this day, on her December birthday, she bundles up in the New York cold and brings warm-toned flowers to her now 98-year-old mother.

When I was a teen, I recall asking my mom, “Where are you going? It's your day and we want to celebrate you."

“I won't be gone long," she'd say, “but my birthday is because of the hard work of my mother, so it's her day just as much as it is mine. I need to mark that."

In this time where we are all too often conditioned to think our birthdays are all about us, it can be easy to forget that on the day we were born, a woman, her face radiant with effort and care, labored and cried and lost sleep and gave of her whole body and heart so that we might live and flourish. For those among us who were adopted, one woman birthed us with great courage and another, whose eyes shone with loving acceptance, gave us a home in her arms.


Since childhood, I have been impressed by my mother's generous heart and formidable wisdom. But my own motherhood has been a game-changer in my appreciation for my mom. When I was in labor, my husband stood on one side of me, supporting, and my mother stood on the other side, guiding.

Since she vividly recalls what it felt like to give birth, she was able to coach me like a pro. She cried with us when our beautiful baby was placed in my arms. Of all the major life and death moments we have shared (and there have been quite a few!) this was one of the most profound.

She had birthed me, and now helped me to give birth.

After we came home from the hospital with my first child, my mother stayed with us for a week to help. I recall crying the morning she drove away, wondering if I could make it as a parent in even the most basic ways, let alone become as naturally selfless as her. Over the months that followed, I learned hands-on all the shapes that love takes, and all the ways I needed to grow.

My love for my own mother began to deepen in a way I had not thought possible.

How could I love her more? I used to think. But somehow, I did love her more.

Now I knew firsthand the intricate pain of parenthood, the beauty of loving a completely dependent being with all one's strength. Never before had the famous words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta made more sense: “I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, only more love."

I realize now, firsthand, more facets of my mother's love for me. I viscerally understand the sleepless nights, the aches and pains, worries and unrelenting devotion even in the face of great challenge.

We love our children so much that it hurts. But it sure is a beautiful hurt.

So that is why, every year on my birthday, my children will see their mother bring their grandmother a bouquet of flowers. It is a humble symbol of the garden she has given. It's a reminder that I am who I am because of her.

As I love she who came before me, and made me possible, those who come after me are loved more, too. They are given the gift of seeing their extraordinary grandmother honored in whatever humble ways we can devise. It is a reminder of the profound respect due the greatest gift we have been given... and due the women who gave it to us.

To all the loving moms out there: thank you for the gardens you have planted. May we honor your sacrifices in all the ways we grow. And may we always find many ways to, literally and symbolically, bring you flowers.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.

$70

Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.

$65

Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.

$45

Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!

$23

Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.

$30

Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.

$39

'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."

$35

Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.

$24

Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.

$22

Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!

$25

Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.

$32

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.

$105

Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.

$17

Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.

$68

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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