*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.
+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.
+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!
If you really need to celebrate this year, a few splurges:
VINTNER’S DAUGHTER FACE SERUM (SEEN ABOVE – LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS PRICEY-BUT-WORTH-IT PRODUCT)
P.S. More on mothers and daughters.