How do you thank your mom for everything she’s done for you?

I didn’t buy my mother a Mother’s Day present this year and I’m not sure I’ll buy one ever again. It’s not that I don’t appreciate her; quite the contrary. It’s just that since I’ve had children and am in the process of raising them, I can’t think of an appropriate gift to send her anymore.

I used to buy her a kitchen gadget and a card, or would bring her breakfast in bed with a flower in a vase on the tray. With the distance between us now, I can’t make her croissants (which are a pain to make and FULL of butter) and she has every kitchen gadget known to womankind.

A card won’t cut it — Hallmark is good, but not that good — and I can’t just sign my name to a card with someone else’s words — it feels like cheating.

She’s also not big on cut flowers — unless they are from her garden. I can’t in all good conscience send a potted plant or flower, since she already has a garden that is bigger than she can properly handle (as beautiful as it is).

Forget cards and kitchen gadgets and flowers anyway. How do you thank someone for putting up with all your crap — toddler crap and teenager crap included?

Yes, I am referring to the literal crap through age three, the diapers, the bum wiping, the unfortunate diarrhea incidents, and having to clean the toilet on top of it all.

At the other end of the spectrum, the metaphoric teenage crap is not much better: the lies, the manipulation, and the dissent (and I wasn’t even that bad a teenager).

What gift says thank you for still loving me after I threw up on you? (I am speaking of my baby years, not the teenage ones that, luckily, she didn’t have to witness).

What gift says sorry for thinking I knew it all, and for thinking she didn’t?

Aside from everything she had to put up with, how do you thank someone for teaching you about life?

My mom taught me to cook. I learned by watching her and helping her. She also bought me my first and only cook book — the same one she had — not surprisingly, the same one she rarely consulted. Every time a meal of mine is complimented, I feel she should take some credit. I distinctly remember watching her after a long day’s work, open the refrigerator, then scan the cupboards, and somehow throw together a meal. I made my first roux at a very young age in her kitchen, and since then have used it as the basis for literally thousands of sauces.

My mother gave me the gift of gab and helped me appreciate words. She read novels often in one sitting. It was something of wonder to watch actually — she devoured books.

She could also talk to a vagrant on the street or the Queen of England equally fluently. Maybe we both talk too much, but I too can talk to anyone now, on almost any subject.

I remember her telling me that when she went to Switzerland to learn French, she had to choose to stop talking or learn the language quickly. When I went to Mexico, I learned Spanish in several days.

She took me places, far and near. She gave me an appreciation for other cultures and other ways of living. We ate at five-star restaurants one week, where table manners were essential, and the next week we were camping and balancing our food in our laps around the campfire.

She took me to the Nutcrackerballet, the musical Cats, and my first symphony, but she also taught me how to pee at the side of the road without getting any on my shoes.

She taught me to bait my own fishing hook, and showed me how to braid my hair.

For all of her lessons and teachings (what to do and what not to do) I’m thankful.

I have no guilt in not commercializing my love for my mother, but I do wish I could have been there to make her eggs Benedict this past weekend, or helped her weed her garden.

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