What a Mom Really Wants

Jewelry, flowers, photos and chocolates. Kitchen gadgets and gardening tools. Soaps, lotions, candles and bubble baths. All terrific Mother’s Day presents!

I’m not big on gifts – getting them or giving them. Maybe it was my upbringing. There was never any extra money for buying things other than food and, occasionally, clothes. My kids must have picked up on my lack of interest in gifts because they seldom send me cards or presents and when they do I’m kind of shocked, and suspect someone else – a dad or a girlfriend – had a hand in it.

I still look forward to Mother’s Day every year, though. The holiday is a nice reminder that your kids appreciate you, even if they forget to mention it the other 364 days a year.

But this year, Mother’s Day has me thinking about gifts and the best gifts I’ve received in my lifetime. There have been a few real standouts.

One year my sister, Alison, showed up at my house with her kids and we all picked up Subway sandwiches, had a picnic, and went on a nice long hike in Ute Valley Park. Her husband, Michael, didn’t want to come along because he had work to do. When we got back, Michael had installed window sills on every window in my house – even in the bathrooms! Somehow, he and my sister had measured all the windows without me knowing about it, and he’d built and painted the sills in his workshop. Installing them meant pounding a few nails – and getting me out of the house for a couple of hours. It was magnificent.

Another one of my favorite gifts came from my friend, David. He gave me an autographed hard copy of the book Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. It’s my favorite book. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from it: “Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops.” There are better quotes in that book, but that’s the one that fits best here.

The best gifts I got this year were a couple of phone calls from my kids. My oldest son called to tell me he’d landed a job doing something he’s really good at. It’s a great company and the money’s good. He loves this new job. We moms take care of our kids for so many years, but eventually, we have to turn them out into the world. We worry that they won’t be able to take care of themselves. Or they won’t be happy. A good-paying job that they love is like a small miracle because then we can stop worrying pretty much. We still worry about other things, but at least we don’t go to bed at night wondering if our kids had enough to eat that day or have a warm place to sleep. Or if they’re spending eight hours a day doing something they don’t enjoy. It’s a huge relief when they get a good job. I called everyone I knew when he got that job, not to brag, but to let them know I was relieved.

The other great gift I got was a phone call from my younger son, who called me last week to tell me he was OK. There was a stabbing on his college campus and one student was dead. A few others were injured. I was traveling for work when I read the news and I called my son immediately and left him a voicemail. He never answers the phone and usually doesn’t even call me back for days, but this time he called me right back. He must have known I’d be going out of my mind until I heard from him.

A lot of moms are going to get the other kinds of calls this year. Their kid didn’t get the job or qualify for that home loan, or their girlfriend broke up with them or husband left them. Or maybe something awful happened and those moms won’t get a call at all from their kid. The moms of those kids at the University of Texas got calls like that this week. I can’t think about it too hard or I’ll cry and won’t be able to finish writing this column.

If you’re a mom, I hope you get a call from your kid this weekend. I hope they call to tell you they got that great job that they wanted, or qualified for the house, or fell in love. Or maybe they’ll just call to tell you they’re OK.

If you’re a kid, remember that we moms feel your pain, and we need to know when something’s wrong so we can try to take some of that pain away. We feel your joy, too, and we need to know about that. Your joy is a better gift than a bouquet of flowers or a box of chocolates. So if we’re kind of annoying and we nag you a bit or ask you too many questions or call and leave too many voicemails, just remember that we never forget you’re our kids. And we just need to know that you’re OK.

This blog first appeared as a column in the May 10, 2017, Woodmen Edition of the Gazette Community News.

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