As I recall the story, there was a lady who wanted very much to honor her mother, and did so by suggesting to someone, somewhere, that a day in May be set aside as Mother's Day, in which children were to specifically honor or memorialize their mother with a written note or letter. Within a few years she was fit to be tied, because the original thought was commercialized and publicized by the suggestion of present-giving, non-personal gift cards and the like.
I have before mentioned that my family was not very observant of events, other than Christmas, Easter and birthdays. I can't remember ever giving my mother a present, but my father always gave her one from "all of us." If we asked what she wanted, she always said, "Just a hand-made card." She wasn't hard to please, but even from a child's viewpoint it never seemed like a very good a Mother's Day present to me.
In thinking about the impact of Mother's Day in my life, I am always drawn back to something my mother put in a handwritten note to us, her three kids, and attached to her holographic will. Her last sentence, written before she headed to the hospital for heart surgery (from which she would not survive) was this: "So, at the moment I shall end this. Just want you all to know how much I enjoyed being your Mom, and wish you long happy healthy lives. Love always, Mother."
I have often felt deficient in the "mother" department, but if I think of this note from my mom – and especially I always do on Mother's Day, I realize that regardless of what a brat I might have been, or my too-far-apart phone calls, or not always being the peacemaker my mother expected of me, or not coming up to the standard she wanted for me, what I did do, by doing nothing more than being her child, still made my mother enjoy being a mother.
So in a sense, without my knowing it, what I did and what I became, and who I was still was enough to make her enjoy being a mother. And it was a gift I didn't know of until she was gone.
I remember my mother today with really warm thoughts. She was a genuinely good, kind person; I don't think she had a mean bone in her body. She set a great example for her daughters in the way she lived her life. That sometimes we fell short was not her fault, and she never, ever, intentionally made us feel guilty. (We were quite able to do that ourselves, thank you.)
And so for me, I think I have already received the best gift possible for this and for every Mother's Day – and that is being able to say to my kids – Sean, Erin, Bryn and Kerry - while I'm still alive to say exactly what my mother did: " I have enjoyed being your Mom!" And that is better than receiving a handmade card, roses, See's Candy, a Barnes and Noble Gift Card, or a cashmere sweater for Mother's Day. Being able to still put my arms around you is enough!