Every year when I was growing up, a couple of weeks before Mother’s Day, my brother and I would ask our mom what we should get her to celebrate the occasion.
“Nothing,” she would invariably say. “Just a little bit of time together as a family.”
To us as kids, it seemed like a silly answer. She got to spend time with us every day, sometimes more than I suspect she wanted. Here was a chance to rake in some loot, and she chose, year after year, to turn it down.Now that I’m a mom, I can see more clearly where she was coming from. I’m lucky to get to see my husband and children every day, and though we suffer from the same irritations and aggravations every family does, there’s not much about our life that I would change if given the chance. But what does it mean to have “a little bit of time together as a family?” I love getting my little boy dressed in the morning, putting on his tiny shoes and taking him downstairs for a bowl of cereal before rushing off to work; and I love reading the same Mo Willems books to my daughter every night after she brushes her teeth but before I tuck her in. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything. I don’t think, though, that those moments were quite what my mom was talking about.
She was talking about moments like the one I remember from last year, when all I did was walk with my family along the Charles River in Cambridge. It was cold outside—we were all under-dressed—and we were there to feed the geese. But when we found them, the geese not only did not want to eat the crackers we had brought for them, but seemed annoyed that we had made the trip at all. Or the year before that, when I was eight months pregnant and we traipsed down to Hancock Park with nothing more than a lunch and some vague plans regarding slides, swings, and an eventual nap.
I can’t think of a single Mother’s Day I’ve celebrated since becoming a mom that anyone outside of our family would consider particularly noteworthy. I’ve never been showered with lavish gifts or treated to a day at a spa, and I doubt if this year my husband (wonderful man that he is) has been visiting any jewelry stores. Yet, somehow, it’s always been better than any gift could have been. Each year, for one day, we make absolutely certain to spend some time focusing on one another—not on topping the previous year’s gift.
Stephanie, general manager at Pear Tree Greetings is the mother of 2 kids, ages 3 and 1. She and her family moved from Boston to Minnesota last year.