Every mother has her favorites.
I'm skipping past the bouquets of dandelions, the coupons redeemable for emptying the dishwasher (or not fighting) and the poems made in English class that rhymed every other word. (For the record, I always found the mandatory gift-making for parents in elementary school a little unsettling; will teachers alter the assignment if there are two moms in the house, two dads, or none?)
This year in honor of Mother's Day, I'm going right to the gifts that melted me. These are the tokens from my sons that still make me laugh, smile and forgive all transgressions. Well, almost all.
Call this my Hall of Fame for Mother's Day Gifts.
My three sons are grown men at 27, 25 and 22. And over the years I have gotten a lot of bouquets of daisies dyed in unnatural tones of bright blue or green; body splash cologne; shirts in sizes way too small; magazine subscriptions; Chinese take-out from my all-time favorite spot for the chicken egg foo young; and CDs that are not really my taste, but theirs. So I have a lot of options to choose from in my treasure chest of gifts from my sons. But these are the winners.
1. Papier mache microphone. My middle son, Brendan, made me a microphone in 3rd grade art class because I was giving a lot of speeches to different groups and universities. I guess I complained more than once that the mic did not work. This version is truly wireless and has a red handle with a wide black top and it looks like a microphone from the pre- "American Idol" era. "Take this with you whenever you give a speech," Brendan said, beaming with his ingenuity. I love this gift because he thought about what I needed and he wanted to solve my problem. He listened to me.
2. Ceramic alien. My oldest son, Weldon, made me this when he was about 8 or 9 years old. I had taken all three of them for an afternoon at one of those pottery painting places that don't seem to exist anymore. (And for the record his name is not Weldon Weldon; I did not change my name when I was married , and he has his father's last name.) The creature is about eight inches high and has an almond-shaped green head and black eyes. The red cape complements the black robe, the sleeves are yellow and the hands are red. It has meticulous detail. It took him hours; I know, I was there. He was so proud of himself after making it that I was thrilled when he presented it to me months later for Mother's Day. Because I so enjoy painting, sketching and creating art, this was his gesture to meet me where I am.
3. Omelet breakfast. This was from Colin, my youngest, who has always been in tune with how other people feel; and would notice if I was feeling overwhelmed. As a single mother, I was pretty stressed with work and daily necessities a lot of the time. He was in high school and I thought it was kind of him to skip past the usual flowers and poetry business and to spend the time on a carefully planned breakfast with fruit, eggs, turkey bacon and wheat toast all presented and staged as beautifully as any Ritz-Carlton hotel brunch. He spent hours preparing the breakfast and it demonstrated such thoughtfulness because he considered what was good for me, what I liked and what would make me happy, especially since he would have preferred pancakes and bacon for himself.
4. Vibrating massage neck pillow. Brendan is all about comfort. Over the years, he has given me a Snugglie, a foot massage portable tub (that he went in on with his two brothers) and a TV watching pillow wedge. I think he believes that if I just lay down and relax a little, the world will be a better place. This signals to me that he acknowledged how I was trying to do my best and how tough it must be at times.
5. Hair conditioner. This has to be the all-time winner. When Colin was only about 7 or 8--old enough to be able to ride his bike by himself in the neighborhood--he collected change from my change drawer and the change jar by the phone in the breakfast room and rode over to Walgreen's. With his pennies and dimes, he bought me conditioner specifically for "Severely dry and damaged hair." He wrapped it up and gave it to me Mother's Day morning. He was beaming with the belief that he offered me the perfect gift. "I explained to the lady at the store what your hair looks like, and she told me this was perfect," he said. He was right.
Only my oldest son will be here for Mother's Day, as both Brendan and Colin live in different states. But I am sure we will talk and we will laugh on the phone and I will remind them that each one of them is my favorite