We're parents now. We're grownups. We've got the bills, the jobs, the tired eyes that didn't come from partying. But we're still kids, too.
Are you checking out your middle-aged body in the mirror right now and shaking your head? Stop…and call your mom. She'll set you straight. One lecture from her on how you really need to wash those shirts inside out and you'll be rolling your eyes like a teenager. Because to them we still are.
When your mom looks at you, she sees a chubby baby, a broken arm, a fifth-grade science project, two years of braces, a senior prom, and a college dorm room all in one. She sees sleepless nights with a colicky newborn and practicing bunny ears on Keds and crying over first loves and all the mess of you that your first 18 years of life brought home to the dinner table.
So, for Mother's Day this year, how about you play the part and give your mom something new to remember?
Go old school
Remember when hand and foot prints covered in glitter and a misspelled “I love you" was all it took to turn a gift into a memento. You know she still has a few in the attic, the ones that took up residence on the fridge and survived the big moves and avoided the mice and mold.
While I'm not recommending you dip your toes in washable paint, I do believe there's something to the sentiment. Perhaps, this year, skip the card with the artful etching of an iris on the cover and cursive poem inside. Wander a little farther down the grocery store aisle. Grab a blank one and fill it in with musings of your own.
Use the words your mother taught you and tell her how what a mark and measure she's been in your life. Make the words yours, and it matters more. It's your metaphorical footprint.
If the note of gratitude travels a little too far into the touch-feely realm for you, get her something she needs but would never buy herself. We're talking the really posh robe or the meal delivery service that seems too newfangled to initiate but will save hours of time and grocery shopping.
The best gift I ever gave my mother was a tree. Yep. The woman loves her yard and she needed a shade tree, so I loaded a beauty in the back of my beat-up Jetta and we planted and christened it together. Her name was Layla, after the song. Gifts like these fill a necessity but up the ante. They show that you've put some thought into the life she lives when you're not around.
The next time you're fixing what feels like (and might be) the thousandth meal for your kids while they complain about the red or green or yellow vegetable touching the rest of their food, think about how many meals your mother made you – how many roasted chickens, or briskets, or lasagnas you watched her sweat over in the kitchen.
Then call and make some reservations. She deserves to sip a mimosa at brunch or slice a steak she didn't marinate or pick a pasta that didn't come from a box. Not sure if it's the right way to say thank you for all those years and all those dinners? Think how much you'd like to sit down right now and eat a meal that does not require you to do the dishes.
Whether she lives yards away or oceans, every mother wants some face time. If it's within the realm of feasibility, see if you can cross the threshold that welcomed you home every day after school and every summer in college and between every job or relationship. It gives them a chance to play mom again, via hostess.
She'll put fresh sheets on your bed, assuming she hasn't turned it into a pottery studio or sunroom. She'll stock the pantry with your old favorites and get to do the job she misses most – motherhood – for just a little while. She might just serve as free babysitter, too, if you play your cards right.
Not all of us still have mothers we can hug on this day. Some have already had to say goodbye. And for those, Mother's Day is perhaps even more important as a day to pay homage to the one who walked before and ahead for so long. Today is a day to remember.
Write a letter and put down on paper the words you wish you could say in person. Take flowers to a place of remembrance, a place your mother loved where you hold a memory worth honoring. Eat her favorite meal. Watch her favorite old movies. Take a walk and roll your shoulders back and breathe deeply the air that once knew her presence. Then go hug your kids and let them remind you of the role you are now filling for them, thanks to her.
Despite the fact that the world has told you you're a grownup and a parent and you'd better act like one, your mom still sees the little kid in you. So however you celebrate Mother's Day in your family unit, don't forget to share the love with the one who made you…you.
Give Mom that nod of acknowledgment, that gift of time, yourself, your attention, your mind, for just a little bit. Because she sure gave it to you.