The Ultimate Mother’s Day Gift


You need to find Mom a Mother’s Day gift. The perfect one would be nice, but every year this eludes you.

Eldest Supreme and Small One. Original oil painting, Madonna and Toddler by Steve Henderson.

Eldest Supreme and Small One. Original oil painting, Madonna and Toddler by Steve Henderson.

I mean, what do you give this woman who bore you in the midst of great pain — whether in a delivery room with too many people milling about or by the phone, waiting for a voice on the other end to say, “We have a baby for you,” or whatever her own unique experience of anticipating, longing for, and finally bringing you into her heart was.

And once you were there, you carved a great big space, but that was easy, because her heart was soft and malleable where you were concerned, even though she could be most unreasonable about your coming in two minutes after midnight (Why was she always up? And how is it that the rest of the household could fall asleep?)

You know, she never has forgiven that child, so many years ago, who didn’t invite you to the class birthday party. I think she talks with the child’s mother, but only politely, when they run into one another at the grocery store.

More than once, Mom embarrassed you dreadfully during the regional swim meet, when you could hear her yell over the crowd’s roar, every time your head came up for air. You came in seventh.

College Girl. Original pastel portrait, On the Verge, by Steve Henderson

College Girl. Original pastel portrait, On the Verge, by Steve Henderson

“You’re always a winner in my book,” she said.

So what do you get this woman, who loves you just because you are who you are, who isn’t afraid to tell you that you behaved rudely back there, but in the next breath gives you that look that makes you feel safe and panicky at the same time?

A cruise? Mom more than anyone knows that you’re not made of money. If you seem in danger of forgetting, she reminds you.

A card? Is that too cheap? She always taught you to be generous and to invest your life in people, not things.

Flowers? Dinner out? A phone call? Socks? Books? A gift certificate?

Yes, that last one’s good. But a gift certificate to where?

Maybe I can make this easier for you. If you want to know what to give Mom, start by realizing — fully and completely — what she has given you.

And what she has given you is your freedom to fly, little fledgling, even though what she wants more than anything is to be with you, be near you, be a part of your life forever and ever. That little girl and little boy — newborn, six-years-old, pre-teen, fifteen (do you have any idea how difficult you were at fifteen?), the young adult off to college or a new apartment or a job — but away — for the first time — all of those people still reside in her heart, and there is room, so much room, for the rest of you.

But she lets you go, because there are two things she wants for you more than anything:

The Son and Heir. Original oil painting, Youth, by Steve Henderson

The Son and Heir. Original oil painting, Youth, by Steve Henderson

She wants you to be happy. That’s why those 11 p.m. phone calls, the ones after the big breakup or the job loss or just because you’re agonizingly lonely — are so hard on her. Don’t get me wrong — she wants you to call, but it would be nice if, a week later when things are back to normal, you let her know?

And she wants you to be good. That’s what she raised you to be, you know: a caring, thoughtful person who speaks gently to animals and squats down to listen to children at their eye level. Although she pushed you, all those years, to keep your grades up, it really doesn’t matter to her if you’re a doctor or a writer or a grocery store clerk or a lawyer (an honest one, mind you!) or a nuclear physicist or an artist. Do you make the world a better place because you’re in it?

She does, you know, or at least, your world.

Tired of Being Youngest. Original oil painting, Grace, by Steve Henderson

Tired of Being Youngest. Original oil painting, Grace, by Steve Henderson

Tell her you love her. Call her, if you live far away. Write her a note, if you write better than you speak. Get together for dinner, if you’re close. And stay close, in your hearts, however you can, as much as you can. That’s what she wants more than anything in the world.

Mom, I love you. You let me go, but held me tight.

Progeny of mine — I love you.

Deeply. Unreservedly. Unabashedly. Joyfully. Eternally. You are my ultimate mother’s day gift.

About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She writes about life, art, and the art of life.
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4 Responses to The Ultimate Mother’s Day Gift

  1. Margaret Mair says:

    I loved reading this – and I’ve been thinking along the same lines myself – though you put it much more eloquently than I did. On my Facebook page I wrote: ” When I look at our children I see them not just as they are now but as they were at every age, and I love them all the more for knowing them that way. They have enriched our lives.”
    Thank you for sharing these thoughts.

    • Thank you, Margaret — and I agree — we see them at every age they were, and it is a composite of their whole. The images in the article were of my progeny, painted at various times by the Norwegian Artist.

      If you have not already, and if you are willing, I would be most grateful if you would Share this story with your Facebook community. As a writer, I put my soul into what I say, and I do it in the hopes that it will reach, and touch, the hearts of readers.

      Happy Mother’s Day! I hope that somehow, you connect with each one of your wonderful children on that day, and all through the year. — Carolyn

  2. A post full of love and affection for our mothers. No matter what we give, there is nothing that will compare to what our mothers gave us through the years. What we can is love them with all our heart always.

    • Island Traveler — there’s something about unconditional love and unconditional giving that is well worth preserving and following. Sadly, in our skewed society of today (all societies of all times are skewed in one way or another, but we have our unique oddities), we discount that unconditional love so associated with motherhood. Look at how easily we discount the unconditional love associated with fatherhood — in recent years, our media and society have looked the other way when some fathers have left, and now we don’t associate fatherhood with protection, love, honor, strength — “Fathers don’t love unconditionally,” we tell ourselves. But many of them do. Unconditional love is something we can all stand up and do our best to practice, and encourage others in the many good results associated with it. Your writing is warm and encouraging, and I enjoy reading your posts.

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