My husband is a gift-giver, which can be unfortunate because I’m an awkward gift-receiver. On many occasions, my husband has been excited about a gift, which I seem to blunder when receiving. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the thought and care that went into buying something. I truly do. But somehow the practical side of my brain takes over when I receive a gift. I think, “This is lovely, but do I really need this? Will I use this? How much maintenance will it need? Where will it go in our house?”
Mother’s Day gifts are no exception. My husband lovingly helps my kids pick out gifts, and I accept them with hugs and kisses. However, as I think back on Mother’s Day gifts of years past, I can honestly say that even though I didn’t recognize my need at the moment, there are three gifts I can’t live without.
1. A hammock
The first time I was in a hammock was after my aunt came home from South America. She set up a hammock in my grandparents’ front yard, and my cousin and I cozied ourselves in it. Eventually, my older cousin said something I didn’t like, and I wanted out. Not wanting me to tell on her (which I was probably going to do), my cousin conjured up a story that there was a snake (that I couldn’t see) just outside the hammock. She said if I went to the house, the snake would for sure get me. I believed her and sat in misery for hours. (Or so it seemed to my younger self.)
Because my first experience with a hammock was colored with distress, I was leery when my husband set up the hammock purchased for me for Mother’s Day. Unlike the one from South America which was a solid piece of fabric, this hammock had holes. It was woven. I wondered if I would flip out of it if I distributed my weight wrong or if I’d get my foot caught in the gaping holes.
However, I soon found the hammock was the perfect opportunity to be outside with my family but in my own weightless world. I close my eyes and am on a boat, the wind gently swaying me back and forth, the sun warming my face. I take my tablet with me and listen to audiobooks, or I use my sunglasses, prop myself up with a pillow, and read physical books. With a glass of sun tea by my side, I was set for hours. It became a favorite for my kids as well. They would crawl up into the hammock with me, and we’d talk about a hurt feeling or a bug they found.
Now, when I think of summer, I can’t imagine my life without the Mother’s Day hammock.
2. A birdfeeder
When my husband brought home a bird feeder, my immediate thought was, “Oh, great. Another thing I have to take care of.” (See, I told you I don’t respond well to gifts!) At that time, I felt the weight of organizing a house, taking care of the kids and dog, and making sure my husband had clean clothes. But to my surprise, the birdfeeder has brought me so much joy!
I’ve been vaguely aware of birds since my childhood. I had an aunt and uncle who studied birds. I would go on bird walks with my uncle, and my aunt told me my crayon-drawn pictures were not complete without a few birds in them. But I really started noticing birds for myself when we lived in the coastal South. The flora and fauna were so different than what I had known in the Midwest. I was fascinated with the different cranes and pelicans, along with how they interacted with more familiar-to-me birds.
But as I watched the birds out of my Nebraska kitchen window, I found myself fascinated with their personalities and behaviors. My fear of forgetting to refill the bird feeder and letting the birds starve never happened because I was constantly checking to see what birds were visiting the feeder.
3. Homemade Gifts
Homemade gifts are easily my favorite. They capture a period of time in my children’s lives. I have homemade Mother’s Day cards and painted boxes, bookmarks, and hand-scribbled pictures. But by far, my favorite is a canvas I received that listed all the reasons why my kids love me (in their own handwriting).
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and underappreciated as a mom. I have the canvas hanging up where I can look at it daily to remind me why I do what I do. And it got me thinking, “Why don’t I frame more cherished art pieces?”
I know, I know. Kids can make a lot of art, and I don’t think every piece needs to be memorialized forever. But, maybe, instead of sticking those homemade Mother’s Day gifts in the back of my closet, it might be time to display them in more prominent places so I remember why I make dinner, despite the occasional complaining about what I cook.
Because my kids, at their worst and at their best, have my heart. I’m grateful my husband has a gift-giving heart himself and encourages them in their gift-giving.
They say it’s the thought that counts, but sometimes, it’s also the gift!
Whatever your loved ones have in store for you this Mother’s Day, may you find joy in it.