Disclaimer: Moms, this was written on your behalf. Please share with those responsible for purchasing your Mother’s Day gift this year.
Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 8. Did you know that? No, me neither. Had to Google it. But it’s soon and right now many Columbus moms are busy planning lovely, thoughtful gifts, meals and excursions for the mothers, step-mothers, grandmothers, mothers-in-law and various special women in their lives.
But what about that mom? The one planning? The one who keeps the world spinning by working in the office and/or working in the home; by remembering birthdays, anniversaries, shot records, permission slips, prescription pickups, iPad passwords and where Barbie’s red stiletto was last seen? Well, if you’re lucky enough to have that mom in your life as a spouse, partner or daughter, all I can say is that YOU have some serious planning to do too. Luckily for you, I polled 75 Columbus moms to get the scoop on what these masters of motherhood want the most from their nearest and dearest this Mother’s Day. While the responses were generally spawned from the realms of fantasy, there were some major themes worth visiting.
Ever looked at the floor of your wife’s van and wondered how the Velcro-like floor mats have changed from a serene river rock gray to a swirling hell-storm of Goldfish cracker orange mixed with unidentifiable brown? Your beautiful children are disgusting monsters, that’s how. Help mom restore the peacefully bland ambiance of her minivan by having it detailed for her. Too pricey? Take the kids with you to a self-service car wash (a safe one, in daylight hours, obviously) and let them help vacuum their filth from the crevices. Then let them watch you cry tiny tears of adult ennui while you wrench the vacuum from their uncoordinated fingers, only to find that you, also, are no match for the car manufacturer’s brilliantly-thought-out, aforementioned Velcro floor. Go, with haste, and buy the burliest all-weather rubber floor mats you can purchase from the dealership. Never speak of it again.
This was the second most popular “want” according to my poll (the most popular will appear further down). Moms clean all the time. And when they’re not cleaning they are looking around the house sighing, thinking about all the things that need to be cleaned. And that’s just on the main floor, consisting primarily of picking up Legos and stray bits of Kleenex while restoring the throw pillows to their rightful location 250 times per day. But what about the bathrooms? The bathroom mirrors?? Why are the speckled like that? Is the glass getting old? Huh. Let’s not even think about the baseboards. Moms in Columbus are begging, pleading for professional help. So consider hiring a cleaner. It doesn’t have to be every week. Twice a month would be just swell. Heck, even once a month would go a long way towards preventing the evolution of a dusty biofilm along the far reaches of the bathroom counters. There are plenty of local cleaning companies with reasonable rates and about a gazillion friends-of-friends on Facebook, who clean part-time for a bit of extra pocket money. Seek out one of these wizards of counter wiping and watch your wife mentally scratch off a line on her to-do list. Happy days, they are ahead.
Putting back the throw pillows 250 times a day is hard on the old neck and back. So is pushing one of the rusty semi-trucks that double as kid-friendly shopping carts through the grocery store (so is sitting at a computer at 11 p.m. writing blog posts, for that matter). Whatever the cause, moms have a TON of muscle tension in their necks, shoulders, backs and even chests, whether they realize it or not. When my oldest child was 2, I messed up my neck somehow (most likely sleeping on a cheap pillow) and eventually turned to a massage therapist for help. She expertly fixed my neck but also commented on how overly tight my upper chest muscles were, and how often she sees that type of muscular imbalance on moms of young children. It makes sense. We carry, carry, carry. And usually not using the best form. So I completely understand why some of the most popular responses in my poll were “spa day” and “massage.” Give a girl a break. Give her stressed out muscles a break. But DO NOT just hand her a gift card for a massage place or a spa and say “you’re welcome” (though it’s a sweet thought). One thing I kept hearing is that moms need also to be be free of planning their day of self-care. They want you to say, “Happy Mother’s Day love of my life who is more beautiful today than the day we were wed. You are booked in for a massage at 2 p.m. today. Now go! Be reborn!”
The Mushy Stuff
Many moms in my poll were sweet enough to add that while they would love some fantasy gift along the lines of “Go to a hotel by myself for two days,” they would be very happy with thoughtful hand-made gifts of appreciation and adoration. Cards from the kids, burnt toast and juice boxes in bed, you get the picture. This means they LOVE their families and know that their families love them back. They just want to feel appreciated for all that they do. A few moms even said that they wanted to spend Mother’s Day knee-deep in their brood; they just didn’t want to have to do any of the aggravating gristly bits of motherhood on this particular day. No refereeing, no cooking, no cleaning, no planning. Surely this isn’t too much to ask one day out of the year?
Day of Freedom
A ha! You thought the mushy one would be what I would end on, surely the most asked for gift of all? You would be wrong. Far and away the most hoped and dreamed for gift was the gift of freedom. A free day (not even 24 hours actually, just a morning and afternoon) to leave the house unencumbered by boogers and snack bags and do whatever the heck she wants. That is what most moms requested. Some moms said they would spend it shopping, some getting their hair and nails done, others catching up with friends over coffee, brunch, etc. Still others imagined the bliss of having the kids out of the house for the day so that they could stay home and use the bathroom/drink hot coffee/catch up on the Netflix queue in perfect peace. For the gift-givers, this is good news. It’s free! Sure it means wrangling kids for several hours or owing the grandparents big-time, but once again, it’s free!
The Very Important Message
Ultimately, what all of the answers to my poll had in common was a desire for some type of burden to be lifted from these ladies’ lives, even temporarily. The burden of cleaning, of stress, of subsumed identity, of being everyone’s everything all the time. Who among us, woman or man, parent or not, doesn’t wish for something similar at some point every day? It’s a thing people do. And moms are people, even if they and those around them sometimes forget it. So this Mother’s Day, above all else, make her feel like a person–a valued, respected person, and not “just” Mom.