What your mother would love on her spe­cial day of the year

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE - WENDY IRVINE

MOMS don’t need more mugs and wine glasses. Here’s what they re­ally want for Mother’s Day:

Ev­ery 12 months our in-boxes groan with lists of “unique” gifts “mom would love for Mother’s Day”. Maybe it’s just me, but you know what moms don’t love? Lists that urge chil­dren to spend money they don’t have for stuff that has lit­tle to do with the bond be­tween mom and child.

I can’t re­mem­ber, for ex­am­ple, ever pin­ing for a tem­per­a­ture-con­trolled ce­ramic mug, a cash­mere wrap or wine glasses that say “Keep Calm & Drink Wine” and “Mommy’s Lit­tle Sippy Cup”.

The best gifts, of course, aren’t things. And the per­fect gift for a mom de­pends on which stage of par­ent­hood she cur­rently in­hab­its. Here’s a guide to help you get started.

Stage I: Sleep-de­prived and over­whelmed

The Stage I Mom is so ex­hausted that in­pa­tient surgery sounds like a tempt­ing va­ca­tion. Her off­spring rarely sleep, and her rare “breaks” – when a part­ner, rel­a­tive or friend takes the kids to the park – are euphemisms for more house­work: Throw in a load, empty the dish­washer and start a frozen pizza while down­ing a glass of wine be­cause – as she tells her­self – “Hey, it’s 3.30 some­where.”

If the kids are too lit­tle to cre­ate “Mother’s Day", the bearer-of-breaks should step in. Be­cause here's what a Stage I mom re­ally wants: A day to her­self (mean­ing no­body home). Stash de­li­cious food in the fridge for her. Sug­gest that she watch her favourite shows or read a good book, or take a bath (key hint: set out gor­geous lo­tion next to clean tow­els that you washed and dried).

She will try to thank you. Raise your hand and say,

“Stop right there. No thank you nec­es­sary to­day. This is your day – the kids and I are … gone.” Then don’t come back. For, like, the en­tire day – 6pm would be good, 8pm would be even bet­ter. (She’ll need to wan­der the house like a zom­bie for an hour or two be­cause she’s not used to the quiet.)

Stage II: Un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated, and still sleep-de­prived

The Stage II Mom doesn't see her tweens or teens enough; at least, she doesn’t see them when they're be­ing nice to her. She’s at the of­fice or asleep (be­cause sleep de­pri­va­tion is part of her now, like deal­ing with an over-ac­tive blad­der af­ter child­birth). The kids are usu­ally in school, on the soc­cer field or holed up in their bed­rooms. Stage II moms know the kids still live at home be­cause they emerge to tell her how old/lame/un­fair she’s be­ing at least once a week.

The Stage II Mom would love a gift that fo­cuses on spend­ing a yesteryear-like day with her fam­ily: No squab­bling, no video games and no grunt­ing noises that pass for con­ver­sa­tion. Go out for brunch with ev­ery­one show­ered, nicely dressed and smil­ing; or take a long hike at her favourite spot (her daugh­ter would keep up and point out her favourite wild flower and smile); or dig into take-away Thai at home while watch­ing an old fam­i­ly­favourite movie to­gether (and laugh­ing at the jokes). The key com­po­nent is smiles, be­cause Stage II moms want to spend time with peo­ple who seem pleased to be with them.

They also ap­pre­ci­ate a fully washed car. We’re talk­ing clean­ing in­side and out us­ing old-fash­ioned el­bow grease, pa­per tow­els and a vac­uum. To go the ex­tra mile, fill the petrol tank and get the oil changed. Other cool ideas for Stage

II? One kid al­pha­be­tised her mom’s spices as a gift. Another cre­ated a playlist for her iPod and one teen boy ar­ranged to take his mother out to din­ner.

She may be too choked up to re­spond to these gifts, but she will re­mem­ber them for­ever. Ex­pect tears and hugs.

Stage III: Well-rested, but pin­ing for the days of yore

This woman has been through it all. She sur­vived preg­nan­cies and mis­car­riages (pos­si­bly a still­birth), new­borns, chil­dren with spe­cial needs, pu­berty and en­tire years of wor­ry­ing about her duck­lings liv­ing so far away at col­lege.

That ini­tial swath of time when her kids moved on? Bru­tal. At this point, a long nap, a beau­ti­fully scented bath or a good book won't cut it.

The Stage III Mom misses the end­less bick­er­ing that rum­bled like thun­der up­stairs. She misses hav­ing to pull din­ner out of her (um) hat ev­ery evening. For years. For a fam­ily who wouldn't (couldn't?) agree on a meal. She misses be­ing a short-or­der cook. She misses chauf­feur­ing grumpy kids. She even misses long road trips, where she once turned to her hus­band and hissed, “Next time, you drive with them. I’m tak­ing the plane.”

Then, one day, the clouds clear over her empty nest, the sun shines on a sparkling land­scape, and we find the Stage III Mom try­ing to de­cide be­tween a cruise to Greece or Alaska. This cruise will have zero an­i­mated char­ac­ters, no five-storey wa­ter-slides and not a sin­gle bumper car.

So what to get this mom? She'd love a card de­tail­ing what’s new with you – the good and the not-so-hot. It tick­les her to know her lit­tle ducks are fly­ing and crash­ing, and get­ting up again and glid­ing over the wa­ter. She’d love to hear that she’ll see you in Novem­ber or De­cem­ber, or maybe even New Year’s. Know­ing when she’ll see you next is sure-fire balm for that ache in her heart.

There you have it, what moms would love on the big day: Get out of her hair (if the kids are lit­tle), spend time with her (if you’re a teen, but be sure to smile), and track her down in Greece (if you’re an adult). Moms are forged through the bub­bling lava of no sleep, kinder­garten grad­u­a­tions, slammed doors and 2am calls that be­gin: “I crashed the car, but I’m okay.”

Don’t for­get her on Mother’s Day, be­cause she never for­gets you ev­ery day. – Wash­ing­ton Post

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