*This post has been updated after publication because one of the gift ideas I had featured was not yet available online!
When I am visiting my parents’ home, my mother will turn down the bed linens for me at night. This means that at some point in the evening, when I am pouring myself a glass of wine or rifling through her pantry, she will have wordlessly gone into the guest bedroom, tucked down the comforter, and fluffed the pillow on my behalf.
She will stock the fridge with LaCroix and oat milk and the pantry with Crispix and Cheez-Its — all my favorite things.
She will clip out recipes or articles or prayers and leave them for me on the desk of the guest room, my name written in her old-fashioned script at the top: Jennifer. No preamble, no commentary, no marginalia. Just the implied: I thought of you when I read this. And, just beyond that, the implied: I love you.
She will unfurl a gift for whatever occasion is upon us — Thanksgiving, Easter, Daughter’s Day, The First Day of Summer (I swear she invents new holidays for the excuse of gift-giving) — “I saw this and thought you,” she’ll say.
She will plan out an itinerary of meals deferential to my preferences: scallops from Black Salt one night; an Ina Garten chicken dish I love the next.
She will wait until I descend for breakfast before having her own, always first asking how I slept–just about the tenderest of inquiries, in my opinion. As if anyone should care how I slept.
And she will stand at the top of the steps waiting for me when she hears the front door open: “There’s my girl,” she will say, opening her arms as I ascend.
When I am weary, lost in the footslog of caring for two small children while confined for the foreseeable future in our Manhattan apartment, I think about the quiet, largely thankless way in which she cares for me, both when I am visiting her and when I am not.
But it is tenderer to think of visiting her because I cannot right now and — oh my God, I miss her.
All this to say: my mother cares for me instinctively, as though she cannot imagine another way of living her life. On the occasion I have the presence of mind to thank her, she is often startled: “Oh, what? Oh — sure, of course!” Her selflessness humbles me as I occasionally grumble and whine my way through these long days:
A basket of fresh fruit arriving on my doorstep just after I had complained about how little produce we had on hand.
Daily phone calls or FaceTime sessions.
Packages ferrying puzzles and toys for the children that have sustained us through many a bleary afternoon.
Hand-written notes to cheer me along.
Postcards addressed to mini — invariably the highlight of her day.
All of this from my mother. I am inspired and spirited by her example as I look after my own children, but I cannot deny that I also crave her care, even now, on the eve of 36 years old (!). It is lucky, as I wrote elsewhere, to be children.
Today, wishing my mother an extra happy mother’s day–
I am lucky I am yours and you are mine.
Post Scripts: Mother’s Day Gift Ideas.
Below, a roundup of items I am currently lusting after (or own!) that would make excellent gifts for mothers. I aimed to keep most of these items under $100 and prioritized featuring small businesses owned and run by women (though there are exceptions).
+Rose print pajamas from Polkadot. How beautiful?! I am so in love with this new-to-me label, which was founded by a mother and daughter team! I love the rose print, but am eyeing this solid white chemise for myself.
+Pretty initial stationery from Hibiscus Linens, also a woman-owned business!
+Floral inlay box from Madre Dallas, a lovely boutique owned by three mothers (and friends). These are the kinds of treasures my mother has gifted to me on many occasions — trinkets and heirlooms I will treasure forever but that I would never purchase for myself. I love the vibrant colors and fun designs on this one.
+India Amory pareo — I loved this new colorway so much, I ordered it for myself! I featured Julia Amory (the founder of the line) awhile back, and she has since become a mother herself!
+Nicola Bathie cameo earrings. These are over $100 but oh my — the perfect gift for a mom. I am in love with mine. (And this is yet another strong female founder with two little ones at home.)
+Weezie makeup towels (from yet another line founded by two women!) and your favorite tube of mascara (this is mine). These would be a mildly ironic gift for my mother as she was on my case for years for ruining dozens of towels with eye makeup. (Sorry, mom.) I also love Weezie’s short robes for getting ready and blow-drying my hair if you’re open to a slightly higher price tag.
+This darling Liberty London dress with a matching style for a daughter from Petit Peony, yet another woman-owned business. (The founder seems like the loveliest woman: she partners with various non-profits to donate and is the mother to a child who received a heart transplant — God bless her). I think I need this matching set for Emory and I.
+Just the prettiest mug ever and a tin of Harney & Son’s Mother’s Bouquet tea.
+Travel jewelry box with a fantastic, Goyard-esque block monogram from Parker Thatch, co-founded by a woman!
+A striped Kule tee (I live in mine). Yet another woman-owned business!
+A pretty pastel saucepan. Such a great size for re-heating soup, warming milk for an at-home cafe au lait, or…decorating your kitchen shelves. (I mean, it is stunning!)
+Scented terracotta pomegranate. People rave about these as a way to lightly scent and freshen bedrooms, closets, etc. Such a unique gift from an Italian pharmacy/apothecary that has been around since 1612. 1612!!!
+A photograph book you can organize online from the loveliest stationer. Would be such a sweet way to document your relationship with your mama. I am actually welling up just thinking about this.
+Anything from this roundup of gifts for new moms if you’re giving something to a sister/friend/daughter/etc who’s just given birth.
+Leopard candlesticks from Alice Naylor Leyland for the eclectic table and chicest of hostesses. (Love love love these.) Also a woman-owned business!
+Fun melamine plating from Katie Kime to encourage al fresco dining — at least some of us can eat outside during this time of isolation! I love the fun patterns and monogram options from this shop, yet another woman-owned business!
+A heart necklace from Gorjana (co-founded by a woman) engraved with her initials — or one of these disc necklaces with all her children’s names on it.
+Stunning bookplates from Nancy Nikko (female founder!) and one of your favorite books. (Or one of these gorgeous hard-bound ones.)
+Gorgeous ceramic bowls by Susan Gordon — another woman-owned business! I’m in love with this lemon one.
If you really need to celebrate this year, a few splurges:
A CLASSIC TIFFANY HEART LOCKET
VINTNER’S DAUGHTER FACE SERUM (SEEN ABOVE – LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS PRICEY-BUT-WORTH-IT PRODUCT)
P.S. More on mothers and daughters.
P.P.S. More on motherhood in general here and here and here.
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13 thoughts on “Mother’s Day Gift Ideas.”
Omg, I am absolutely sobbing after reading this post. I, too, am unbelievably lucky to have the kind of mother who thinks of me before herself, who makes sure my favorite snacks are stocked in her pantry, and who leaves presents in my bedroom at her house (“Go see what came for you the other day” is a common greeting each time I arrive). Recently, it’s been baby clothes and toys for my newborn, but the other day, it was a pair of sandals, just because she though I’d like them.. I find choosing gifts for her on these occasion to be so difficult, because how do I thank her for being her? I really appreciate your suggestions, though! xo
So so sweet — “go see what came for you,” as though these items just materialize without thought and expense! Ugh! I love your mom from afar.
We are SO lucky 🙂
I’m self confessing. I’m so accustomed to texting. After long and daunting work days, my mom calls and there have been times I’ve let her go to voicemail. I might be in middle of making dinner, starting a show or simply don’t have energy for the lengthy conversation. Her sharing every detail of her day, and asking me many questions about mine . Shame on me and I’m embarrassed to admit it.
We’re so lucky to have such strong and caring mamas. You mentioned many beautiful gift ideas, mine to my mother this year will be my time and patience. Thank you for reminding me of the importance of these women in our lives and just how lucky we are.
Oh, Betsie! What a beautiful resolution / gift for your mother — no need to be ashamed. We are so lucky.
Your mother sounds like such a lovely lady. Happy early Mother’s Day to you both!
The last number of years, I have spent Mother’s Day with my mother & grandmother having high tea. As that won’t be happening this year, I’ve been planning a tea party menu that we can enjoy from our own homes. Tiny sandwiches, scones with jam & cream, small sweets – all of our favourites! It won’t be quite the same, but I am excited to make it as special as I can 🙂
How sweet is that?! I love it. Different to be sure but my guess is this will be a small blip in a long succession of Mother’s Day Teas enjoyed in-person…and you’ll always think back and say, “We loved that tradition so much, we made it work when we couldn’t be together.” Truly so special. xx
My mom has been sending me little poems in the mail throughout this lockdown and they have made checking the mailbox the highlight of my day.
Oh my gosh! I love this. So thoughtful — what a fun surprise to punctuate your day 🙂
So many sweet ideas here, and I appreciate your focus on female-founded businesses! I’m eager to support small businesses when spending discretionary $$ these days … so I appreciate these suggestions 🙂
I recently ordered monogrammed stationery from Papier and was really happy with the process, pricing, and design! Really nice company.
That’s so good to know! They have such lovely styles. xx
Love seeing the mention of Black Salt, that is where I had my last lunch with friends prior to “the quarantine times” in March. Seems like so long ago…
Black Salt is one of my favorite spots in DC! Whenever we are home, we make a point of going to their happy hour, ordering a dozen oysters, and drinking the champagne cocktail. Such a special (delicious) spot.
I know, March?! That was a different life…