The first Mothers Day Gift I can remember giving my Mom was a narrow navy blue belt with a long narrow gold buckle. I was a seven-year-old Bronx kid, and such as times were, I was allowed to walk down to the end of the block past the four buildings (955, 923, 911 and 901 Walton Avenue) that sprawled between my building and Murray and Murray’s candy store. Next to it was a drug store owned by a man named Bernie, where I thought eating a cream cheese and lettuce sandwich along with an egg cream at the counter made me as close to a grown-up as a kid could get.
That’s as far as I was allowed to go unaccompanied, but I had been beyond the border many times for hand-packed ice-cream at Addie Valens. That is how I knew that between the drug store and Addie Valens was a small women’s store – I don’t think the work boutique was even in the vernacular yet. It was to that store that I violated boundaries to find a gift for my mom with money squirreled away from my candy and Spalding budget! I remember still the white tissue paper in which it was wrapped and how proud I was to give it my mother.
The first Mothers Day gift I remember getting from my own kids, other than their wonderful glittery, lacy, home-made cards, was very, very special. I awoke on Mothers Day, immediately aware that our apartment was too quiet. A single mom who worked hard not to be over-protective, I called out their names and got no response. As the adrenaline started coursing through my veins, I saw the note on the pillow next to mine.
“Don’t worry, Mom,” it said, though I am sure the original had much more creative spelling. “We know you work so hard and that you love the newspaper on Sunday, so we went to get it for you.” Could a mother ask for more? Want more? I don’t think so. Their gesture embodied everything good about a commercial Hallmark-y holiday, real appreciation and love, even at risk of getting in trouble, from the two people who meant more to me than any others in the world.
For many the day has become one of obligation. I have heard people, including people I love, say, without anything close to enthusiasm, “I have to pick up my mother and then take her home,” or “I cannot believe I’m losing a great golf day.” (Well, I can empathize with that one.) And there have been years when because of temporary rifts I have “celebrated” the day twice, one day with one daughter and then another day with the other, which does not do good things for a mother’s heart.
In an ideal world, kids of all ages would feel the joy young children feel when they make their moms happy. I am very richly rewarded in this department. So as Mothers Day approaches, go for the flowers and the dinner if you want. Buy something you know will have meaning for your mom. Send her something spectacular from our website. But remember what you already know if you are a mom. Nothing is more valuable than a from-the-heart note whether it is placed on a pillow, sent through the mail, of spoken over Skype. And when an in-the-flesh giant hug is possible, go for it. Nothing else is needed. Anything else is icing on an already sweet cake of a day.