Thursday, May 7, 2009

Traditional Mother's Day Gifts (And Why I Hate Them!)

I’m going to admit that I’m ridiculously hard to buy presents for. (I blogged about my reluctance to graciously accept technological gifts earlier in the week over at Harperteen.) But when it comes to traditional Mother’s Day gifts, I’m the worst. For one, I hate getting flowers. It’s not that I’m opposed to flowers. I love them, actually, in gardens and planters and even blooming on cacti. But I hate getting them as a gift.

As any crazy cat owner like myself might tell you, flowers are ridiculously attractive to cats. Thus, finding any spot in my house where my cats won’t jump up, eat them and/or drink the water out of the vase presents a challenge, which will consequently turn into an annoyance, as I attempt to move them/hide them from the kitties.

Then there’s the part where the flowers die, which always happens within a week of the gift (usually sooner in my case thanks to crazy flower-eating kitties). I hate having to throw them away – something that was once beautiful, now dead and ugly. And finally, there’s the thrifty part of me that thinks that spending money for something that I’m going to have to hide, that will thereafter soon die, seems like a complete waste.

I do love jewelry, but admittedly, I’m very picky, so I think I’ve scared my husband off in this category after I made him return/exchange a few prior gifts. Candy? Of course I love candy (who doesn’t?), but I hate getting it as a Mother’s Day gift. It seems like most of the years since I’ve become a mother myself, I’ve been in some stage of trying to lose baby weight, so candy just feels like sabotage.

In my defense, I’m pretty sure this is genetic, something I inherited from my own mother, who also hates getting flowers, jewelry, and candy as a gift. One year, for Mother’s Day, back when I was in middle school, we got my mother a kitten, and that was one of the only times I remember her actually loving any gift. Ever. She spent the entire day smiling and holding on to the kitty, and plus, she hadn’t been expecting it, so it was great to see her surprised. (Hint to my husband: I will gladly accept a new kitten for Mother’s Day!).

Okay, so I’m hard to shop for. But I’m also completely happy not receiving any material gifts for Mother’s Day. Because Mother’s Day, for me, is all about spending time with my husband and my kids, relaxing. And if you throw a good brunch in there, I’ll be blissfully happy!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I miss my mother. Sadly, she lost her battle with cancer just over a year ago. Mother's Day for me is jumbled with emotion. But, if there is one piece of advice Mama would give me for this Sunday, it would be to R.E.L.A.X.

In thinking about how I might achieve this break from my usual day-to-day, I turn to Mr. Webster to ask what he has to say about relaxing. He says it means "to release or bring relief from the effects of tension, anxiety, etc." Okay, sounds good to me. But what does my relief look like for Mother's Day?

I've already got a tentative plan in mind. I'll wake up as late as possible, which for me is unfortunately 8:00 a.m. (the woes of leaving my twenties behind.) I'll turn on the CBS Sunday Morning Show. Love it. Make my coffee at the commercial and then, depending on whether or not my son comes home from college, I'll make a decision on which Sunday church service to attend. Right now I'm thinking the 11:00. Maybe I'll make my bed, maybe I won't. Whichever relaxes me most is the objective.

After service I'll come home and head out to my garden. Pick up some brown magnolia leaves that have fallen all over the flower beds, dead-head, weed - do anything just to be outside. Gardening takes away my angst. It's like working a crossword puzzle or playing solitare on the computer. It's mindless and stress-less.

The point in sharing any of this is to say there's something to be said about the mundane. We all have to take time to relax whether it's Mother's Day or Wednesday or Labor Day. I don't think it's necessarily about refraining from work per say, but more about taking a break from the battles of the mind. Taking a time-out from worry, mental anguish, fear. No doubt, it's tough to do. But engaging in mindless activities from time-to-time certainly makes it possible.

This Mother's Day, I'm all about whatever mental distraction I can find . . . if only for a day.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My Day! My Day!

I know I've mentioned before that I have a big extended family. Every holiday, including Mother's Day, we were expected to troop between like six different places to visit everyone. And that was fine, because I didn't yet have a voice in the family, so I really had no choice anyway.

But now? That I'm an adult, married and have my own kid? Things are a'changin'.

There was a bit of early discussion this year about trying to "fit in" visits to everyone on Mother's Day. Which I, now that I can officially be "celebrated" that day, quickly put the kibosh on. Because there's no way my toddler son will last through brunch, a visit to someone's house and a dinner. That's two restaurants, people. His meltdown clock is about five minutes long, meaning that we only have five minutes before the shrieking and flailing.

So, for Mother's Day this year, I look forward to sleeping in. Oh God, YES! I haven't been snuggled into my comfy bed past 8am in way too long. Then, I'll get up, have a cup of coffee and watch trashy reality shows that I've DVRed--without any protest from my husband. Which means he'll be forced to watch hours of The Hills and all of Vh1's spring lineup. Woo Hoo! Maybe I'll even go get a pedicure!

But, seriously. It'll be nice to have a day when I can just relax and do whatever I choose. This weekend my husband was out of town at the Kentucky Derby. He and a bunch of his friends all went down south and partied it up, adult spring break style, for three days. I was left to wrangle my son and our very high-maintenance dog. After about twelve hours of feeding the dog, filling up sippy cups, picking up Cheerios off the ground, chasing my son when he took his diaper off, sweeping up kitty litter, etc. I realized that my entire weekend was going to be spent doing things for everyone else but myself.

And that was OK, but I'm ready for a break.

Like Tracy, I too, would like to say thanks to my mom. And apologize for being such a pain in high school! :)

Monday, May 4, 2009

My First Heroine: My Mother

Rather than talk about how we celebrate Mother's Day at my house, I'd like to, instead, share a little about my mother.

As a child, like most little girls, I imagine, I thought my mother was the most beautiful, funny, smart, creative, and impressive woman alive. I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. By the time I'd reached my teenage years, a lot of these thoughts had...well, changed. I still loved my mother, but the love was hidden beneath a vat of teenage angst. We didn't get along very well most of the time, we fought often, and I swore that I would *never* be like her.

Then, a funny thing happened: I had my first child. Suddenly, my mother was the real life encyclopedia I turned to with every question I had about my infant daughter. We didn't live near each other then, but oh, did I rack up the telephone bills. In fact, she was really the only person I trusted with any questions I had regarding the role of being a mom.

I had less questions with my second child, but the connection that was formed with my mother didn't wane. Still, I can't say I considered her a friend, because I didn't. She was Mom, and I loved and trusted her, but she still seemed to be in a different world than I. She was there, always, if I needed her.

And then one day, she hesitantly told me over the phone that she had breast cancer. I remember the stark fear that hit me, but disbelief crawled in next. My mom couldn't be sick. But she was, and the fear came back, only I was mostly able to keep it bay. My mother had always been strong, and I'd always seen her as fearless. She'd win the battle of cancer. I was sure of it.

But slowly, she shared more information with me. How the form of cancer she had didn't give her the greatest odds for survival, how she was going to try what was then a new treatment, and how she'd be in a hospital far from her home for a very long time...and I heard her fear in her voice. Something I'm not sure I'd ever heard before.

I think that scared me more than anything else.

I lived in North Carolina at the time, and had two young children. I remember standing in the shower and becoming hysterical with grief. Not just that I might lose my mother, but that my children might never really have the chance to get to know her.

It was a horrifying reality. Not one any of us wants to think about, let alone have to confront. For months, I lived in this weird fugue state, doing what needed to be done, but wishing I could physically be with my mother while she fought for her life. And fight she did. As hard as it was, and she told me it was the hardest thing she'd ever done, she beat the odds and survived, and today is completely, and thankfully, cancer-free.

Years passed, and evenutally, I found my way home again to Ohio. My mother is often the first person to know many of the details of my life: both good and bad. I turn to her for advice, for support, for understanding, for everything a child should be able to look toward their mother for. She's always there with her strength, her wisdom, her experience, and her love. And, after so many years, I consider my mother one of my closest friends.

And guess what? I so want to be just like her.

So, for my mother on Mother's Day, I'd like to thank her for so many things, from the little to the big. Like that time she spent hours and hours baking and then decorating a Holly Hobby cake for my birthday, even if she did threaten to freeze it and bring it out each year to look at. For protecting me from the harsh realities of the world when she still could, for helping me deal with them when protection was no longer an option, for supporting me, for sharing her strength, and for teaching me what being a mother and a friend is really all about.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom! I love you!

To all the other moms out there, I hope you have an amazing Mother's Day!

And now, for a little fun, head on over to Dorchester Editor Leah Hultenschmidt's blog this week. She's holding a Mother's Day contest with some awesome books as the Grand Prize (A Taste of Magic is one of them!).