Motherhood came as a bit of a surprise to me.  Of course, I knew the steps that led up to the event (wink),  I just didn’t expect it to happen so early in our marriage.  After hearing from so many friends about their long journeys to parenthood, my husband and I expected the same for us.  Our son had other plans.  Not only was he a honeymoon baby, but he also arrived 4 weeks early.  So I started a self-directed, intense crash course on parenting.  I researched, talked and listened.  Fifteen years, two more kids, and a teaching job later, I am still researching, talking, and listening.  With Mother’s Day around the corner, my inbox has been overflowing with gift lists, but I have other ideas in mind for my mom, and myself.  Here’s my take on what a  mom really wants … 

What A Mom Really Wants: The Early Years 


I never appreciated sleep until I had kids.  At night, I felt as if I were “on-call”.  At nap-time, I did chores.  The result: one tired mom who sometimes forgot to the enjoy precious moments.  So if you know a new mom, offer to take care of the kids, do chores, cook dinner or whatever it takes to let her relax, and sleep.  Ideal gift: a late afternoon massage + healthy dinner + overnight babysitting.  

Hand and Foot Prints 

In the early years,  I swore that my kids grew significantly bigger while they took naps.  They looked different when they woke up!  I wish I had kept better records of their growth, especially of their little hands and feet.  Ideal gift: a framed picture made of hand and footprints.  Pinterest has thousands of ideas.  


I’m usually the one behind the camera, so on Mother’s Day, I always ask my husband to take photos of me with our kids.  Ideal gift: a photoshoot with a professional photographer. (This is what I’m getting for my mom – shhh!)   If you’re a photographer, start a photo book of mom and kids featuring one photo every May.  

What A Mom Really Wants: The Elementary School Years

More Photos 

Some of my favorite photos of my kids were taken by friends, teachers, and family members when I wasn’t there.  There’s one of my daughter holding a snake at a pre-school field trip.  I’m not sure she would have done it had I been there, a nervous wreck!  Ideal gift: a photo book of moments that mom missed.  Do you have photos of your friends’ kids at a playdate that you hosted?  It only takes a minute to send that photo, but I’ll bet it will inspire a day’s worth of smiles.  


I have always loved to write, so when my kids started writing stories, I was beyond thrilled.  At the end of the school year, I recycle most of their work, but the stories and personal essays have a special home in my office.  Ideal gift: a creative story or essay about mom.  It still makes me laugh that in pre-school my son wrote that my favorite foods were chocolate and salad (true) and that I was 16 years old (not so true)!


In elementary school, my kids started bringing home piles and piles of artwork.  Too busy to display them, I admired, I sorted, I packed them away.  So I was thrilled, when one year, my husband intercepted the mad frenzy of tidying and framed two of the pictures as a gift.  I know too many moms who are too busy to use gift cards or to put photos in an album.  Give them the complete package.  Ideal gift: framed art.


As my kids became more independent, I loved that they helped out around the house.  I could not have more proud when they took on the role of hosts at our family gatherings.  Ideal gift: Dad (or other adults) + kids host the Mother’s Day celebration.  

Flatlay of kids' art and writing

What A Mom Really Wants: The Teenage Years + 

Even More Photos (And Videos)

Teenagers are sometimes reluctant to be photographed, but this is another time when change happens in the blink of an eye.  Not only is this a wonderful time to capture their expressions and features, but it’s also a fun time to see the world through their lens.  Ideal gift: hand them the camera so that they can create a photo book, slideshow or video for mom (including selfies).  


Sometime during the pre-teen years, my kids developed a wicked sense of humor.  All I want for Mother’s Day now are the funny cards that they make.  They’re always a snapshot of expressions that they use now, or inside jokes that we share.  Ideal gift: humorous cartoons, cards or video recordings from the kids. 


As the kids get older, they are so much busier, so at this stage the most precious gift is time.  What more could a mom (or grandmother or aunt) want than a special outing with their teen (bonus if they can drive and pay for it.)  Ideal Gift: One-on-one time with each child.  

At the end of the day, I think what a mom really wants, is to feel loved and pampered.  Sometimes, that calls for a trip to the mall, but often it just requires a little thought and effort.  I hope you’ll share this post with friends and family so that the moms in your world have a truly meaningful Mother’s Day.  Feel free to comment below on your favorite Mother’s Day gift ideas.  

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