Lost in Suburbia: The true gift of Mother’s Day

Tracy Beckerman

As I was perusing the card aisle, I noticed that Hallmark had already started replacing their Mother’s Day cards with Father’s Day cards, and I realized I’d better start thinking about what to get my mother this year before my only remaining option were stuffed teddy bears left over from Valentine’s Day.

When I was little, I used to make my mom popsicle-stick picture frames that she seemed to really love. But somehow I thought that giving your mom a popsicle-stick picture frame when you’re 45 might not be as appreciated as it was when you were 6. Of course I was pretty sure I could make a much better picture frame now because my hand is steadier and I’m much less likely to get the glue all over our pet cat the way I did back then. But I thought a different gift might be warranted, nonetheless.

Still, it was hard to figure out what to get her. She has enough nightgowns to fill a lingerie catalog, and yet she mostly wears a T-shirt to bed. She has more jewelry than Elizabeth Taylor, yet she mostly wears the same earrings every day. She has plenty of bath oils and scarves and pretty writing paper and all the other things they tell you your mother would love for Mother’s Day, and so I was at a loss for what to get her that would convey the depth of my love.

When I was a kid, my brothers and I would give my mom her homemade cards along with burnt breakfast in bed, take her to the park for a picnic lunch, and make an extra effort not to fight with each other so Mom could have a peaceful Mother’s Day. This seemed to really make her happy, although for the life of me, I couldn’t understand why. Toys, candy, even money, I could understand. But lousy, kid-cooked food and hanging out with me and my annoying brothers? That I didn’t quite get.

“Someday when you’re a mother, you’ll understand,” she’d say as she’d give me a squeeze.

Of course, like everything else that she predicted, she was right about this, too. And so when I had my own kids, I suddenly understood that it wasn’t about the gifts at all, but about spending the day with the people I loved, and having them want to spend the day with me.

Spending the day with my mom for Mother’s Day now, however, wasn’t quite as easy. Several years ago my parents sold the house I grew up in and moved to Florida. This put them about a thousand miles and a 2½-hour plane ride away.   Suddenly, the popsicle-stick picture frame was looking like a better option.

So I called my brother to see if he had any ideas. He did.

“Why don’t we see if we can find an inexpensive flight and bring Mom up here for Mother’s Day,” he suggested. “We could split the cost.”

“She’ll never go for it,” I argued. “She gets mad when we just buy her gum.”

We decided to get my dad in on the plan, and then without asking my mom how she felt about it, we just sent her the ticket.

“It’s non-refundable,” I said when she called to complain. “Happy Mother’s Day. We’ll see you next week!”

“Don’t you want to know how I feel?” she asked.

“I know how you feel,” I said. “And I love you, too.”

Tracy’s book, “Rebel without a Minivan” makes a lovely Mother’s Day gift! To order yours, go to Amazon or any online bookseller.