Mother's Day in the United States falls on May 10 this year, but there is still time to secure something special and memorable for one of the most important women in your life.
According to Mary W. Quigley of AARP, Americans will spend a record $21 billion this year for cards, flowers, jewelry, gift certificates, and electronics and gardening tools. In addition, restaurants are expected to be packed on Sunday during brunch and dinner.
"While the typical expenditure is $175, our 25- to 34-year-old children will spend the most of any age group, averaging almost $250," Quigley wrote. "Of course, that doesn't mean they are splurging only on moms; many will buy gifts for their wives in the name of their little children."
Quigley went on Facebook to ask moms what they wanted on this special day. Two of them indicated that they wanted time with the children, a card, flowers, and a dinner possibly included.
"Nothing elaborate: lunch or dinner out at our favorite restaurant and perhaps a card," Catchy C. said. "I like things to be simple because what is truly important is the corniest of all: spending time with your kids."
"Being together is what makes me the happiest and trumps any 'thing' they could give me," Mary D. said. "However, being totally honest, I would be a little disappointed if they didn't make some minor effort to get a card or flowers for me, and especially their 88-year-old grandmother."
Another mom, who works as a writer, told Quigley that she would be happy with an appreciative letter addressed to her.
"A candid, warmhearted, funny/serious love letter to Mom (email's fine), gratefully acknowledging my decades of passionate, highly imperfect service," Vivien O-S said. "Why save it for a eulogy?"
One mom told Quigley that sometimes, action is necessary to get what you want.
"I want it all: a nice dinner and presents," Bernadette C. said. "I already know what I want for a gift and am planning on bringing my daughter and son to the store."
An anonymous mom indicated to Quigley that she appreciated any advanced planning and thoughtfulness on the gift, whatever it is.
"Don't want the flowers that they picked up at the bodega on the corner a half-block away - not because I'm a snob or because I measure the worth of a present by how much is spent, but because I know they just grabbed it on the fly," the anonymous mom said. "Even if they wind up with something I don't particularly like, I would like it to exhibit some advance planning and a little thought as to what they think I might like/need."
Psychologist Jeffrey Bernstein came up with two suggestions on how adult children can show their appreciation to parents, especially mom.
"The first is what could be called a preemptive strike when it comes to adult children showing appreciation to parents: Reinforce thoughtfulness," Quigley wrote, citing Bernstein. "When the kids call or visit, forget that it's been weeks. Instead, thank them for checking in and enjoy the conversation."
Bernstein noted that it was OK to express feelings if Mother's Day ends up disappointing for whatever reason.
"It's part of the human experience to sometimes feel that our kids are taking advantage of us or are conveniently oblivious," Bernstein said.
The psychologist suggested that any discussion should be framed in a positive manner.
"If you are going to say something negative, it's more effective if you say something positive first," Bernstein said.
Before mentioning the items to avoid giving on Mother's Day, Walt Belcher of TBO.com looked at the history behind the tradition.
"Anna Jarvis, the dutiful daughter who launched a campaign in 1908 to honor all mothers in honor of her own late mother Ann Reeves Jarvis, disliked the commercialization of Mother's Day which became an official holiday in 1912," Belcher wrote. "She wanted people to be thoughtful, respectful, grateful and reverent."
Belcher then cited a quote from Jarvis that had doses of both anger and sarcasm in regards to gifts typically given to moms around this time of year.
"A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world," Jarvis said. "And candy! You take a box to Mother - and then eat most of it yourself."
According to Belcher, the worst Mother's Day gifts include anything bought from a convenience store, any type of exercise equipment or diet book, coupons for fast-food places and unknown restaurants, and any items "as seen on TV."
"Yes, these gadgets can be ordered for overnight delivery, but resist the temptation to pick up ... other items that people buy while in an alcohol-induced, pre-dawn mind fog while watching television," Belcher wrote.
Belcher reported that depending on mom's interests, good Mother's Day gifts included books, tickets to a play or concert, spa treatments, and dinner at her favorite restaurant. Gift cards can work too, but some moms prefer things attached with memories on Mother's Day too.
"Mothers often say that the most cherished Mother's Day gifts are handmade things they got from their young children," Belcher wrote. The kind of mementos that are made in preschool and kindergarten are priceless. Yes, it's still the thought that counts."
No matter how Mother's Day is celebrated, Bernstein noted that children of all ages can still find teachable moments in this and every other holiday.
"Think of the discussion as a lesson in empathy," Bernstein said. "Kids of all ages need to learn better how to navigate the emotional world."