Photo by Yuri Levchenko, Creative Commons, via Flickr.
My mother wasn't perfect (shhh, don't tell her I said that), but she did her best to love my sister and me. Part of that love meant she read poetry to us, every day before we got on the school bus. Part of it was expressed in the walks she took us on, to pick wild strawberries by day or find the Big Dipper and the Seven Sisters by night. She was especially good about making us little handmade cards for Valentine's Day. I still remember the unique shape of the tiny hearts she'd put by her name, Mommy.
Time has passed, so much time, but the gifts persist--particularly in how she influenced my love of words and gave me ways of seeing the world. If I could give something back to her this year, it would be something from this list (in fact, I chose two, but I'm not telling which, in case she happens to find this post, which is unlikely, but you never know what secrets the Internet accidentally divulges).
10 Great Word Ways to Love Your Mother for Valentine's Day
1. Everything That Makes You Mom, from the publisher of an inspiring mom website, where you could potentially find even more mom gift ideas. You won't have time to fill this book up with mom-memories before Valentine's Day, but you could very well give it to your mother along with a promise to do it together over the phone or lunch for a while, as a way to connect. Watch for the orange poncho and the pancake frisbees.
2. Jealous Poem Stacks. Forget what your mom told you about not being jealous of others. Get jealous for words, and make her some fun poem stacks, pulling from books on birds, gems and minerals, or flowers. You could send the stacks along with that sci-fi chocolate you've been meaning to get her.
3. Spin: Taking Your Creativity to the Nth Degree. Set mom spinning towards a more creative life. You could work on the question sections together and maybe recall some stories of your own that parallel the topics like ritual, being a kid again, and talking to strangers (yes, she told you not to do this; now you'll show her it isn't all bad).
4. Every Day Poems. What better way to love your mother than to give her the gift of beautiful, thoughtful, or amusing poetry, right in her inbox? And you needn't stop there. You can discuss the poems together for a great way to enliven your relationship.
5. Hans Christian Andersen, Complete Fairy Tales. Fairy tales are for grownups too. Sometimes we forget that. Take mom back to the time when you read these classic stories together, and help her recapture the delight of the colorful bedtime story. Or, if you missed out on this experience as a child (and mom did too), why not read the tales together for the first time?
6. Love You Forever. Make her cry. Why not? You probably did that countless times over the years. And we promise this will be a good cry. Love You Forever is a children's book that's really a grownup's story, as we watch a young boy grow and eventually care for his own mom. "I love you forever, I love you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby [my mommy] you'll be." (Bet you can't get through it either without a needing a tissue.)
7. Sophie's Masterpiece: A Spider's Tale. Make her cry again. (You're on a roll.) This is a beautifully-told story that follows the aging spider Sophie (don't worry, she's a pretty arachnid) and her quest to give beautiful things to people--ending with a final masterpiece gift to a lonely new mother. The pictures are gorgeous, the sentiment deep.
8. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail. After numbers 6 and 7 above, mom is probably going to need this. Take her on a hilarious (and sometimes irreverent) adventure with Bill Bryson. She will know he's doing a lot wrong just by the traveling companion he chooses (and may feel satisfied that she taught you better--about how to select your friends and hiking compatriots, as well as your hiking food supplies).
9. Tea With Jane Austen. Maybe your mom was the first to introduce you to the wit of Jane Austen. It's your turn to be the first to introduce her to tea with Jane. This book is a fascinating look at the world of tea in Austen's time. Includes quotes from Austen novels and recipes you may wish your mother had made.
10. The Faraway Nearby. A memoir of apricots, mirrors, and a mother descending into dementia. Okay, it's probably not best to give this one to her for Valentine's Day. But if you're trying to work through troubled memories of mom (or deal with a challenging care-giving situation), this might be just the book to keep for yourself. That's allowed.
This post is a modified reprint of a post that first appeared at Tweetspeak Poetry.