I am paralyzed by gift fear.
You know that feeling when you want to find the perfect gift for someone, but the more important the gift the harder it becomes?
Well my mum invokes an insane amount of gift fear, for two reasons:
- She wants for nothing – not because she has everything, but because the things she longs for are not purchasable.
- There is no gift that can fill the hole of gratitude and love I have for her.
I mean, we are talking a hole the size of the Grand Canyon here people.
I feel a bit like a Michael Leunig character…he would sketch me standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon looking down with a worried look on my face and a thought bubble above my head saying,
“Big hole. Can’t fill it.”
So I am up sh#t creek with no paddle in sight, because it’s Mother’s Day and I am racking my brain for a gift that doesn’t exist.
You should know right off the bat that my mum is extraordinary. She is extraordinary because of a combination of a million little bits of ordinary.
It was 1976. Mum was heavily pregnant. She and dad lived on a remote farm on the Murray River in Northern Victoria. When it rained they couldn’t get a vehicle into the property, so to get groceries they drove in and out of the farm on a Honda 110 postie bike.
Early one morning mum goes into labor and goes to find my dad in the stock yards. Dad, the typical farmer, says “No worries – I’ll finish milking and let the cows out, then we’ll head to the hospital.” The legend goes that it is bloody lucky he didn’t have too many cows left to milk, because they only just made it to the hospital before I arrived.
This day is significant – because it was the last day mum put her own wants and needs before everybody else’s.
Mum and I in 1976
My mum’s dedication to her family never ceases to amaze me. She now has three children, their partners, 6 grand children and is also grandma to my foster brother’s two children.
Mum probably doesn’t realise it, but she is the anchor point of our family. She is the control centre of a well oiled machine. She is the one who knows what is going on in all of our lives and actually gives a toss (or pretends to!). When I think back I can not remember a single dance concert, guitar recital, school play or significant event she has missed.
Mum is the one we go to, for big and small alike.
Split your pants? No worries, mum will sew it up.
Got a heavy issue weighing you down? No worries, mum will listen.
Got a party you want to go to? No worries, mum will have the kids.
Mum does these things and never complains. In fact, she is the one who will spy the hole in your pants and tell you to whip them off so she can fix them. She will see something is upsetting you and ask if you want to talk. She will know it is your wedding anniversary (when you have forgotten) and suggest she have the kids so you can have a night away with your hubby.
When I returned to work after having each of my babies Mum was keen to look after the kids whilst I worked. This was for practical reasons, like minimising daycare fees and reducing the running around for me.
But it was also about much more than that.
Mum’s work as a social worker taught her it is critical for children to have strong connections with individuals outside their immediate parental relationships. With this in mind, Mum has made it part of her life’s work to ensure she is that person for each of her grandkids.
But wait – it gets better.
When mum comes to have the kids, she not only spends time playing with them and teaching them to bake, count or sing, she also completes little acts of kindness for me. I always come home to find my washing pile gone, the oven cleaned or a batch of banana muffins cooling on the bench.
Now that I am a grown up (now there’s a questionable call) and have become a mother myself, the thing that amazes me most about mum is her selflessness. Mum does these things and never, ever expects anything in return.
She doesn’t expect accolades, she doesn’t expect thanks and she sure doesn’t expect gifts.
So back to my gift anxiety.
When I asked Mum a few weeks ago if there was anything she would like for Mother’s Day I got the standard response, “Hmmmm, no, can’t think of anything.”
Oh dear, here we go again.
So when my sisters-in-law and I came up with the big idea of spoiling mum with a High Tea at the Windsor Hotel, we were pretty pleased with ourselves. What a lovely, thoughtful, classy way to celebrate mothers day. We’d come up with a good one this time. No pot plants or photo frames this year, nuh huh.
However, things didn’t quite go to plan.
On the big day I ran late because one of the kids became carsick and lost their lunch in the backseat. Once I finally arrived, smelling of spew and a little flustered, we were seated quickly, champagne was poured and we were determined to make up for lost time.
Everything went quite well for a while.
We were using the correct cutlery and speaking in our best quiet posh voices. I think we even had the fancy looking ladies seated around us fooled that we belonged there in Windsor Hotel sipping tea and nibbling ribbon sandwiches.
That was, until my sister-in-law dropped her miniature pie and loudly exclaimed,
My other sister-in-law then forgot where she was and licked her butter knife. Mum, doing her best to maintain decorum, poured herself a cup of tea, but forgot to use the fancy pants strainer and asked the waiter,
“Why are there floatie bits in my tea?”.
By then the champagne had kicked in and so had the uncontrollable giggles. You know the ones that you are fully aware are inappropriate but only serve to make you giggle more?
Luckily by this stage it was time to leave, so we got the waitress to take a photo of us pretending to be all fancy and high tailed it out of there.
Mum, myself and my tall sisters-in-law looking almost as fancy as the blokes in the picture behind us
In the end, our High Tea idea turned into a bit of a debacle (although we are still laughing about it a week later). And on reflection, we probably should have known better.
Mum came over last night for Mother’s Day tea with the grand kids. The kids prepared home-made cards, a picnic in a fairy garden and a musical extravaganza (which included multiple renditions of “Let It Go” and “Uptown Funk” she has seen a gazillion times). And all the while, Mum’s face glowed with love and pride. She even managed to look happy and excited on the third round of bloody Elsa and her frozen snowman.
Because, at the end of the day – family is what makes mum happy.
So happiest of happy Mother’s Day to the best mum going round. We promise to stick to terrible concerts and fairy garden picnics next year. And even though I am confident you are setting a standard of mothering and grand mothering I can’t hope to live up to – it’s ok – because you are extraordinary.
Blend it your way,
Don’t forget to come on over to the Booken Blend Facebook page and tell me how awesome your mum is!