I have the most awesome Mom on the planet.
It’s not open to debate. I’m sure many are willing to challenge me, and that’s fine. But it doesn’t matter. She’s the best as far as I’m concerned. My Mom was my first friend and teacher, and today, she remains my best friend and loyal counsel in all things from love to lip gloss to linguine pasta salads. Now that I’m older, I can appreciate with greater understanding just how much she has sacrificed for me and how she has unconditionally loved me through my 34 years, but when it comes to honoring her on Mother’s Day, I’m stumped.
How do you best say thank you to the woman who not only squirted you from her body but also spent subsequent years cleaning up what squirted out of you? Flowers are nice, chocolate is delicious and jewelry is shiny, but does it really say thank you?
For the longest time, I thought a good Mother’s Day gift was something you could plug in. Bonus points if that gift was best used in the kitchen. I remember going shopping with my Dad, making a bee-line for kitchenware and scouting the aisles until we selected a new appliance to adopt into my Mom’s cooking arsenal.
While it wasn’t a kitchen appliance, I was particularly proud of the year my Dad and I got my Mom a lawnmower. It was so huge we couldn’t wrap it. I remember my Mom smiling and hugging me after we unveiled the monster mulching machine, but it confused me that I always saw my Dad using it. Hmmm, maybe that was actually a present for my Dad disguised as a gift for my Mom.
When I got older, I would learn that other garden tools and flashy electronics were passed off as gifts for my Mom when they were really toys for my Dad.
Despite what I’d learned, when I was finally old enough to go out on my own to do Mother’s Day shopping, I still found myself in the kitchenware aisle at Target assessing my options: an ice cream maker, a toaster that toasts four slices of bread of varying thicknesses, or a blender. These simply where going to cut it. I walked the aisles again and again. Employees probably thought I was casing the aisles for a shoplifting opportunity, but then I saw the perfect gift: an electric jar opener!
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Now, keep your groans to yourself. I’m about to move into the “awwww” moment.
I bought the Black and Decker super magical jar opener, brought it home, wrapped it up and dressed it up with ribbons and a bow. When the time came, I presented the package, and my Mom slowly but diligently unwrapped my artwork. When she saw what it was, her face lit up, but it wasn’t just for show like when I was younger.
“I hope this isn’t stupid,” I said to her. “But I’m hoping this will help you in the kitchen when your arthritis is acting up, and I’m not here to help.”
She hugged me like she always did, but this time it was different. “I love this,” she said. “Now, let’s go find some jars.”
We opened jars just for the sake of watching that Black and Decker do what my Mom couldn’t on her bad days. A jar of olives. A jar of nacho cheese. A jar of pickles. Even years later, when I was away at college and when I’d finally moved out of the house, my Mom would call to tell me how much she used and appreciated that machine. She used it for years until it finally gave out. She never got a replacement, but she still mentions from time to time how much trouble that little gadget saved her. It wasn’t the most extravagant gift, but oddly enough, a little electric jar opener touched her heart and showed her that I cared and that I paid attention.
This year, she said she only wanted a card. She and my Dad recently went through a rigorous downsizing when they moved to Nevada, and she didn’t want any new “stuff”. So instead, I thought I’d dedicate a column to her just to remind her that she is still the best Mom in the world.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mama.