Many years ago my children would buy me a gift for Mother’s Day at the cute Mother’s Day gift stall at their primary school. They were in love with being able to choose my gift all by themselves and I was in love with seeing what they presented me with on the big day.
The favourite bit was definitely all the sweet ways they would give the gift away in the lead up to presenting it.
“Don’t you think a candle would be nice in this room?” Lottie asked one year.
“If only you had a picture frame to put that photo in,” said Arabella another.
“What’s one thing you always wished you owned?” asked Max. “I’m guessing it might be a 47-piece screwdriver set?”
Ah, little kids. Those beautiful, innocent, adorable little kids.
Who really buys the gift for Mother’s Day?
As Max reached high school in turn, it became a bit awkward that the girls still had access to the Mother’s Day stall when the high school kid did not. So I told them all the same thing I’ve told them every Mother’s Day since I first became a mother: I don’t need a present. I really don’t.
Of course, they wanted to get me a present anyway, just as they have done every years since I first became a mother. Led by their father, of course. I’m pretty sure he was worried that if I didn’t receive a gift for Mother’s Day it was going to be a barren Father’s Day as well. (Not the case, sweetie. You do you!)
Trouble was, gifts seemingly needed to be bought with something and my kids had nothing. We hardly ever had the pocket money system up and functioning in a reliable way. And there was no way on earth I was going to let them spend their birthday money on me.
“It’s weird that we really just buy each other Mother’s and Father’s day presents,” I noted to Bart. “Especially when we really don’t need to buy gifts at all.”
What to do?
An inspired moment
“I want you to draw, make, write or photograph a portrait of yourself,” I told them. “That’s the only thing I really want for Mother’s Day.”
There are few times in my life I’ve been truly inspired, but this was definitely one of them. At the time the kids were still young enough to think this was an awesome idea and scurried off to devote themselves to making me something worthy.
Mother’s Day rolled around and I gratefully accepted my annual box of luxury chocolates from Bart. (Now that request was another inspired moment.) Then each child shyly pulled out their self-portrait for inspection. They were simply marvellous – a beautiful capture of creativity and how each child saw themselves at this particular moment in time.
Arabella created a collage of all the things she loved. Lottie drew her face using her beloved makeup instead of pencils. Max wrote me a poem (seemingly in the two minutes it took to open the girls’ gifts, but still…). These gifts were so precious I could hardly speak to say thank you. I knew immediately that this was exactly what I wanted to receive every Mother’s Day from now on.
The years and portraits grow
It’s been a number of years since then and all of the kids’ self-portraits take pride of place on the wall in my bedroom. Naturally, the concept was embraced with more gusto in some years than others. Certainly the middle high school years (peak teen) were a little grim – but done. Always done. The girls at least. Max never quite came to the party (though he create a self-portrait in song last year and I thought that was amazing enough to forgive the missing years).
The girls remained true to my wish and presented me with something special each year. Their skills and creativity have sharpened over the years, but one thing remains the same. That my darlings took time out of their busy and important lives to make something just for me… even when they would probably rather not.
Now that’s enough to make any mother’s day.