Gentlemen and ladies, I want you to take a moment and reflect where you would be without your mother. Toledo? I guess I’m not being clear. I don’t mean where would you be geographically, I mean where would you be in terms of your character, your values and not having to ask strangers to help you tie your shoelaces?
Given what she has given you, the least you can do for your mother is give her one perfect, hassle-free day per year. I’d suggest May 13. That’s why we have a Mother’s Day that over 40 countries celebrate. However, the exact date and the ways this event is celebrated vary from country to country, sometimes in odd ways. In the former Republic of Yugoslavia, the children sneaked into their mother's bedroom and tied her up in bed. When she woke she promised to give the children gifts that she had hidden in order to be untied.
Much as children might like that concept, here’s how to do it in America.
10 Guidelines for a Perfect Mother’s Day:
1. Don’t allow her to cook anything. Some mothers need to be tied in a chair all day to accomplish that. She’ll thank you later.
2. Clean up your room even if you live far away. Mothers know these things.
3. Don’t swear. Note: There is a zero default setting on this rule.
4. Your Mother’s Day card should be sentimental not silly. Specifically, no cartoon monkeys, elephants or old ladies in really short skirts. If you find a card with a floral design and a sappy poem, you are on the right track.
5. Gift giving on Mother’s Day is a family tradition. Some families give actual gifts. Others substitute breakfast in bed, which is no gift when prepared by a 3-year-old. But tradition is tradition.
If your family is one that gives gifts on this occasion, the most important guideline is not to give your mother an appliance. If you are a married man, you have already learned this about women and likely have a bad back from sleeping on the couch to prove it.
The same rule applies for Mom. I know, that a 400 horsepower vacuum cleaner will save her time and effort — and sounds truly awesome without the muffler — but that’s guy think. Logic. Does. Not. Matter. Think Valentine’s Day. Mother’s Day is like that — soft or shiny presents, hearts and flowers are the order of the day. Not that I’m suggesting you should court your mother. It’s just an analogy.
6. It is appropriate to give your mother a cake for her special day. This cake should not have candles that add up to her real age or trick candles you can’t blow out. (You can ignore that last part; it’s a memo to myself.)
7. The superstitious touch is always nice and shows you were thinking. A friend of mine says her Ozarks-raised mother believed it was bad luck not to wear a red carnation on Mother’s Day.
8. Give your mother something nostalgic. Women love nostalgia, and mothers are women to the power of two. Old photographs nicely framed, food from a favorite restaurant and your college laundry are all presents that let your mother know you are thinking of her.
9. An hour or a day at the spa, with a mani-pedi is a sure winner. Extra points if the present is for two and includes her sister or your sister.
10. Finally, there is nothing like a personal visit. If you can swing that (picking up a flower from the neighbor’s lawn on your way), you can forget the other nine guidelines. My mother always says that all she wants for Mother’s Day is a sweet kiss. You know what? She isn’t kidding.
There is a special set of guidelines that deal with mothers-in-law on Mother’s Day. Not going there.
The nice thing about mothers is their consistency. The above guidelines apply whether you are 6 or 60, and they should because when she looks at you she can’t see the difference.
This Week's Thought-Byte: If a daughter and her mother and her grandmother go out to dinner on Mother’s Day, who picks up the check?