mother's day presence not presentsI was at the hairdressers this week for a Big Sort Out and, as usual, turned to Facebook to kill some time (my No1 guilty pleasure). Quickly though, my attention waned and I felt myself getting annoyed at all the adverts for Mother’s Day gift ideas. Buy… Buy and MORE buy! So, in need of distraction, I ditched Facecrack and turned to the pile of magazines that had been left for my browsing pleasure. Dumb idea: Enter pages and pages of Mother’s Day marketing – in every magazine. WTF? Has the build up to Mother’s Day always from the marketers always been like this? Or am I more sensitised to the day honouring a parent, given I lost my Dad last week…? (I sense the answer to the latter is affirmative!).

The thing is, when I think about Mother’s Day, I don’t think about what I want, I think about how I want to feel on the day. Thinking this got me curious: Is it just me? Or are, in fact, Mums out there hankering after a Kitchen Aid/headphones/eyeshadow palette/car and I’m a bit, well, spesh?

This reflection lead me to do some crude research. I messaged fifteen friends and asked them “What would you like your Mother’s Day to be like?”. I didn’t ask them what they wanted. I asked a much broader open question.

Their responses? Overwhelming they told me they wanted:

A sleep in. Breakfast in bed. Cuddles from the kids. A day of kids not arguing. A handmade card. To come out of my room and find the house has been cleaned by the fairies.

One person went one step further and said she’d like the benches to be kept tidy and wiped clean all day. That, she said, would really fry her Mother’s Day proverbial burger. As an aside, she’s such a low maintenance chick: I’m glad she’s in my life. I’ve picked that clue up, next time I go visit I’m going to chuck some spray and wipe in my handbag, plonk her on the couch with a cuppa, send the kids off to be quiet with iPads and treat her to a Quality Bench Wipe Down. It’s the small things.

Back to gifts. A couple of surveyed (smart) friends are using Mother’s Day as an opportunity to enhance their life with a new top/ankle boots… You know how that rolls: Stuff they were going to buy anyway (I do this every year at birthday and Christmas time). Only one mate out of fifteen fessed up to wanting something for Mother’s Day. It was hardly a gift requiring a home mortgage mind you: This lass is lusting after a mug from Typo that says “Bad Ass Mother”.

Where am I going with all of this? If you are lucky enough to have a Mum, or heaven forbid, you are a Dad that’s reading this (and let’s face it, it’s the Dads of young kids that need to make the effort), here’s my advice: Have a good ponder (and keep reading) before reaching for your EFTPOS card… Chances are, if my crude research is anything to go by, consider giving the mother in your life a sleep in and the honour of your presence, not presents. You may just hit her love jackpot.

Speaking of love jackpots, this leads me to Love Languages. It’s a book I read once, literally called Love Languages, by Dr Gary Chapman. To be honest, I didn’t enjoy the book that much… I’m not religious and the book is faith based. Not quite my cup of tea AND it was filled with touchy feely stuff. I get an allergic reaction to stuff like that. Critique aside, the book’s message is totes bang on. Hubby was forced to read the book too (bless him). We landed upon the startling realisation that we both receive and show our love in opposite ways. We read the book 10 years ago and we still talk about it.

What are the five Love Languages?

mother's day presence not presentsWe have (in no particular order):

  • Quality Time – Think ‘undivided attention’. Those with the love language of quality time like it when others do things with them. This is high on my list: I love date night, snuggling up and watching Netflix, going out, and doing an activity that’s just us. One of the nicest presents my bestie Rhonda got me was a voucher for time with her. She organized someone to care for her young children and we went out and had wine and a platter and we talked. Bliss.
  • Receiving Gifts – People with this love language feel good when someone gives them a special present or a surprise. You could imagine how good these folks might feel receiving something personalized like Name Bracelets or necklaces. Simply knowing how much thought you have put into that gift would be enough to make their day. Don’t mistake this for materialism: The receiver of gifts thrives on the thoughtfulness and effort behind the gift.
  • Physical Touch – These folk love to receive hugs, kisses and high-fives. This is my hubby’s No1: When I walk past him I often squeeze his bum or give him a nuzzle on the neck (that’s as high as I can reach #shortass). When we go into town, we always hold hands: I’m not that fussed about handholding, but he likes it! Best you don’t fondle your Mum’s bum, mind you. Nah, go for a hug.
  • Acts of Service – A person whose love language is acts of service likes it when others do nice things for them. I love it when my Mum cleans my oven. When someone cooks me dinner. My friend Alex was here a few weeks ago: She unpacked my groceries. My cousin Lizzie once visited and planted me a herb garden… Every time I see her I mention how I love that she did that – that was 10 years ago!
  • Words of Affirmation – Unsolicited compliments mean the world to these folk. So do the words “I love you”. Better still, hearing the reasons behind being loved will see spirits soar.

You can do an online test here.

Chances are you can relate to a few of these. Maybe you can relate to all of them. But, as the theory goes, there’ll be one or two love languages that are more important to you than the others, and it’s different for everyone. Whilst all love languages are significant, Dr G reckons when someone demonstrates love to you in a way that’s not your primary love language, there’s the danger that your love isn’t received at an emotional level. Here’s the good bit: Learning about each of the languages and thinking about your loved one, and thinking about what they might be – and applying that: That’s gold right there. Watch their love tank get filled UP!

Back to Mother’s Day. Reflecting on my super-unscientific research, knowing what floats your Mum’s love boat is handy when it comes to rocking up with some goods to knock Mum’s socks off. According to my buddies: It’s not about being lavished with gifts… Love tanks might be filled up by a backrub, someone putting the rubbish out, a day of people being kind to each other. You may hit the mark by making a cake, or going for a walk in the forest. How do you know? Look and learn. Hell, you could always strike up a conversation about what lights her love fire.

Here’s some ideas to inject some love into Mother’s Day

  • Quality Time – Presence… Not presents. Go for a walk together. Go out for coffee and cake. Go on a roadie.
  • Receiving Gifts – The trick with gift giving is to stay away from the generic: Leave the box of Favourites at the supermarket and pick out something that reminds you of your Mum. Even something as simple as custom face socks with you and your Mum’s picture should do the trick! She can wear those and stay in bed all day.
  • Physical Touch – Hugs. Massages. Manicures and pedicures. Make a mini spa and pamper her for the afternoon. Don’t forget the hugs! These should be in abundance.
  • Acts of Service – Do something for her. Say “Mum, no mothering today” and crack on with housework (pick jobs she hates). Clean her car, do the groceries, hell, WIPE THE BENCH. What about cooking her dinner? How about cleaning her flooring for her? Heck, why not give her the gift of Bissell’s best upright vacuum as an additional surprise to your service?
  • Words of Affirmation – Don’t just tell Mum you love her. Tell her why. Write a card with a list of the best wisdom she’s given you over the years. She’ll love hearing how much she’s appreciated and loved. Decorate the house with messages (get some Post it Notes!).

So, here’s my advice this Mother’s Day. Take some time to think about your Mum. Don’t automatically reach for your credit card, invest in some diamonds, or whip out and buy some perfume… Chances are, Mum might treasure a homemade card, or a sleep in, or the rubbish put out. How do you know what’ll fill her love bucket? Have a ponder… Or even take a leaf out of the Spice Girls’ book and ask her (“Mum! Tell me what you want, what you really really want”.) The answer might surprise you…

mother's day presence not presents