This is the time of year we try to find gifts for those special people in our lives. We try to be thoughtful, try not to break our bank account, try to find the perfect thing that will let our loved ones know just how much we care.
Moms can be difficult ones to buy gifts for. If you do a Google search for "What to buy mom for Christmas" you'll come up with a plethora of ideas.
And I'll be the first to say that all those ideas are horsepucky.
HORSEPUCKY I SAY.
A massage. Mom doesn't need a massage. She doesn't have time for a massage. What day, do you think, can mom just whisk herself away to the spa for a Swedish rub down and a clay mask? NO DAY. That day doesn't exist. That gift certificate is going to be shoved in a drawer as a reminder to mom that she doesn't have any time off and it will expire before she ever finds that time.
Gift cards. Sure, this may seem like a great idea. Let mom spoil herself. Except chances are that mom isn't going to use this card on herself. It will go to buy Little Johnny a pair of shoes when he runs through mud puddles in the only pair he owns that are acceptable for school. It will go to purchase a birthday gift for some birthday party that her kid tells her he wants to go to on the DAY OF THE PARTY. Maybe she'll be happy she has it when she finds herself in a bind, but if your idea is to have mom treat herself to something sweet, you're out of luck. Not going to happen.
Homemade gifts. Sure. Add that glittery Christmas ornament or macaroni art to the pile of other homemade gifts she gets throughout the year. Sure mom will put on her happy face and get all teary eyed when she opens her hand knitted sweater with one sleeve shorter than the other, but the only day she'll wear it is the day you give it to her - and it won't be out of the house.
Chocolate. Great idea. Give mom some more body issues and guilt about that gym membership she's been paying for all these years and never using. Hooray, mom can now feel remorse after eating her jumbo sized box of chewy chocolatey goodness while sitting on her jumbo sized ass. Thanks, sweetie.
Bath products. Listen, mom doesn't get to relax in that tub. She's in there noticing that the grout needs to be cleaned and that the hamper is overflowing. She's lucky if she gets enough time to shave her legs. Calgon isn't part of the picture and your smelly bath salts aren't going to do anything more than sit on the side of the tub looking pretty and being one more thing she has to dust.
Magazines. Oh yes, give mom a subscription to Good Housekeeping or Oprah. Now she has more crap lying around her house filled with articles that make her feel like she's not doing a good enough job. How does Martha Stewart make that perfect Cordon Bleu? Who cares?
If you want Cordon Bleu you need to take mom to a French Restaurant and pay for it yourself. Chic Fil A is not french, by the way. There had better be stuff on that menu you can't pronounce and a waiter you can't understand.
Here's some stuff that mom might actually use.
Noise cancelling headphones. Nothing says "I love you, mom!" like giving her a way to shut out the screaming and nonsense going on around her at all times. She's about ready to pop a nerve if she has to hear the carnage from another video game or the sweet sound of Selena Gomez filling the house. Let mom shut it all out to her own tunes with some headphones sure to keep the sweet sounds of Journey in her head and the wretched sounds of her ever-escaping youth out.
Clean up your own darned mess for once. It will bring absolute tears to mom's tired eyes if she wakes up on Christmas morning and there are no messes. Maybe you could even let mom sleep in on Christmas morning instead of waking her up at the crack of dawn so you can tear open the presents she was up until 2 AM carefully wrapping.
A month's supply of Red Bull or any other good solid energy drink. Mom needs to get moving. Sometimes a shot of gurana and caffeine and crack cocaine are just the thing.
Change her oil. Don't give her a gift certificate to get her oil changed. Take her minivan to the shop and have it changed. Pay for it yourself, not on her credit card. While your out, get it detailed. You probably spilled a soda in that back row at some point and she's too scared to go back there to clean it up.
Leave the house. But only if it's clean. That's right, everyone get out of the house for a few hours. Let mom enjoy her own space all by herself. Make sure she has a bottle of good Chardonnay at her disposal, a good book, and some chick movies on DVD. Better yet, get everyone out for the whole weekend and let mom take some time to do whatever she wants in her own home without having to do anything for anyone else.
Make her bed with nice clean linens and big fluffy pillows and then let her go to sleep. There's nothing mom loves more than freshly cleaned sheets on the bed and an uninterrupted night of sleep. Let her sleep until she wakes up all by herself. That might mean you have to be quiet in the morning and avoid fighting with each other for a few hours. I bet you can handle it.
Think out of the box. Mom doesn't want a framed photo of you or a foot massager. She wants a break that doesn't leave her filled with mom guilt. She wants to just not be the mom for a little while. She'll come back refreshed and happy and maybe a little less crazy.