Thursday, May 8, 2014

thoughts on the “perfect” Mother’s Day gift




Mother’s Day is around the corner and I have a confession.

I am the worst--more boring--mama when it comes to creating a gift list for my boys. It’s not that I don’t have a running list of luxurious little wants in the back of my mind. I love bouquets of fluffy peonies as much as you. And pedicures, back massages, gift certificates to my favorite boutique, the latest best-selling novel…all these are certain to make me smile.

But truthfully, as I get older I see all those as things I can easily buy myself, so it begs the question. Hmmm…what is really precious to me these days?

What can’t be so easily purchased?

For me the answer has always been Time.

Time together.

When the boys were younger, on Mother’s Day I would have them join me in my garden where they, alongside their Dad, would sweat under the blue sky, lugging heavy bags of bark and working next to me in the dirt planting rainbow colored flowers. Afterwards, we would shower and head to a nice restaurant, their favorite part of the “giving.”  Did they grumble? Of course. And needless to say, they preferred Father’s Day much more because it was completely devoid of work. But the gardening was always followed by a hearty meal and long, lingering conversations.

And looking back, I think this ‘gardening’ gift to me reinforced the idea that real generosity is giving freely, not only when it feels good to you.




Today I thought I’d share one of my favorite Mother’s Day gifts because it’s an idea you might want to use too.

I originally read about it from THIS friend and when I mentioned the concept to my husband, he kindly adapted it for my Mother’s Day last year.

At first glance it simply looks like a list of 17 chosen questions for your child to answer. But I view these scribbled thoughts differently; I see these as a window into my child’s mind, a chance to step back and see them as separate, distinct people from us.

In the end, I think this is real love. To see them for who they are. To value them no matter. To be fascinated at their complexity. And to remain incredibly interested at whom they are becoming. How they see the world in which they live.

And yes, even us.

Are you curious to hear what your child thinks makes you happy? Sad?

. Here are the questions Jim gave to our boys and had them answer in private, separate from each other. Feel free to borrow and adapt for your own kids. Remember, Patrick was 20 and Michael was 18 when they answered these.











Granted, it’s a “slice of life” picture. And while it looks pretty lovely-dovey, you can see I’ve been accused of nagging (#13), and  also those Huffington Post references happened because HP  had recently linked to a post of mine.

But this snapshot of what’s happening in the moment is meaningful to me. I find these brief, idiosyncratic answers to be the real gems that I will savor long after my flowers wilt and my chocolate truffles are eaten. They are gifts of the heart, my favorite kind.

Oh, and one more thing.

When it comes to Mother’s Day I’ve learned that there will be good years and tougher ones depending on what’s happening with our kids. But keeping our expectations in check really makes a difference. Whatever is happening with your family, I hope you feel appreciated and special.

And that you remember, it’s never too late to begin anew. To say “I was wrong.”

or  “Hey, I may be flawed, but boy I love you.”

Or to simply be patient. And know that “this too shall pass.”

Mothering is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.



mason jar filled with pink peonies


Tell me…

what is your favorite Mother’s Day gift?





..I’m linking up this post here:





simone antoniazzi said...


I laughed out loud at some of the answers...."technology. the iPhone. specifically Instagram" LOL!!

How clever that they both knew your height though! I so thought you would be 5'10"2, tall & willowy, isn't that funny?!

I love that you used this idea, it's a lovely one isn't it?
Thanks for mentioning me....I think my post was here

I hear you on the house stress...while I know you are still house-hunting, I am currently wishing we had never moved at all, so much stress. It will pass..... :) Xx

simone antoniazzi said...

PS Just re-read your boys' questionnaires....what lovely boys they are. Love that they both say they're sensitive like you & love that they both chose the same TV character who resembles you, did you laugh & nod in agreement when you read that?! Wonderful Xx

Carla from The River said...

I love this, such a great idea.
I am going to show my husband this idea.

xx oo
Happy Mother's Day Friend!

Calypso In The Country said...

I love this Leslie! So nice to capture your sons' feelings at that point in their lives. I am definitely doing a variation of this with my boys! And I really have to check out Parks and Recreation. So funny that both boys mentioned that! Have a wonderful Mother's Day!

michele said...

you and your guys sound fabulous! i am too afraid to give our sons those questions--they're tough on me! i think my fav is the same as yours: our tradition is i get them for the day out in the yard toiling. it's so awesome, and they hate it and sweat and i smile all day. my love language is acts of service so they serve!

happy mother's day.


Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. said...

Time spent together has been at the top of my gift request list for a long tome now! I want and need nothing more than to just hang out with my family! Happy Mother's Day Leslie!

awal.ny said...

Wonderful post. I can't wait to show my husband so he can do this with our kids. Happy Mother's day!

Blondie's Journal said...

As always I look forward to your posts and this was one of your best. Our kids are full of never ending surprises and then very in tune with everything. Your boys are dears! I love everything they said!

Happy Mother's Day to you, dear friend!


Art and Sand said...

When my kids were little and I was teaching, my favorite Mother's Day gift was for Steve to take the kids for the entire day and let me do whatever I wanted - alone. Then we would go out for dinner together.

Now, it is when the kids make the time to be with me.

Mother's Day 2009, both kids said they couldn't make it for Mother's Day. KC lived in San Francisco and JP's wife (now ex) hated family so we never saw him. I came home after work on Friday and saw a beach chair in the driveway. I called to Steve that he shouldn't leave the evidence of his relaxing day out for me to see after working all day. He said he hadn't gone to the beach and then out popped KC from the front door. A great surprise. On Sunday morning, the three of us went out for brunch and when we arrived at the restaurant, there were JP and his wife. That was the best Mother's Day ever. And, my gift from Steve that year, a brand new car.

JP is in Healdsburg for a bachelor party this weekend, but came today to say Happy Mother's Day. KC is bringing her boyfriend over (his first visit to our house because he lives in Sacramento) and we will have a BBQ before she takes him to the airport. I am looking forward to the day.

Happy Mother's Day and from your writing, you sound taller!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

My favorite gift USED to be just being with her. She is no longer with me, and all I want is her, again. But what a great idea this is, Leslie, because one can document the sentiments that blow away in the wind otherwise, or stay as faint memory. Enjoy your weekend with your boys! Anita

Catherine Robinson said...

Fabulous post, Leslie and what a great idea...your boys are lovely just like you ;)
Happy Weekend xx

Karen said...

What a great idea. I loved reading your boy's responses...I'm sure our boys would write similar answers.
My favorite Mother's Day present from my boys was a card they made using a photograph of my formal garden, they put themselves in the picture (don't know how) and then wrote the most thoughtful greetings...they then fixed me a meal. Pretty fun.
One of my favorite sayings regarding raising kids is, "If motherhood was going to be easy it would have never started with something called 'labor'!" :-)
Hope your weekend is wonderful.

Leslie said...

This is wonderful Leslie :) Great idea and it was so fun reading the answers. It's not easy getting everyone to hold still and think about what's important and how much we care about and love each other.
My kids are both very tech savvy and I appreciate their patience with me. I always have questions and struggle learning all this stuff. Have a wonderful weekend and Happy Mother's Day!


Kim Gibson said...

Oh, this is just wonderful. Happy Mother's Day!

Sandy at You May Be Wandering said...

What a wonderful idea!!! Have a beautiful Mother's Day!! xoxo

Heather Lindstrom said...

I just lapped up every moment of this post Leslie. Your sweet boys and the vision of 'you' in their eyes is beyond priceless. I felt the true 'inner workings' of a family in reading this. Those boys adore you. Time is what it always comes down to....I'm happy to be celebrating my mom and her new husband this weekend (marriage at 83-woohoo!). Congrats on the Huffington Post link lady. You go girl! Happy Mother's Day to you my friend. xx, Heather

Lori said...

I hope you were able to spend time with both your boys yesterday. Love the questionnaire and that they were so honest in answering the questions. How is the house hunting coming? I do hope that you find something soon ~ sending hugs xo

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