When I was growing up, my mom liked to tell the story about the Mother’s Day gift she received from my father when she was up 23 hours a day raising five boys and a horrendously stupid and very large dog named Moose. She was 31.
The gift was a kitchen mixer.
She cried her eyes out, she says, and she may or may not have thrown the gift at my father, who I somehow know was clueless as to why tears and a mixer were flying his way.
I thought of that story while I was trying to figure out what to get my mom for Mother’s Day, this year on May 11. While I often buy her theater tickets as gifts, there’s absolutely nothing playing right now near her home in Ohio that is worth seeing or which she hasn’t already seen.
The best thing I could come up with was the Swivel Sweeper G2, which I had bought for myself some time ago when I tired of pulling out a monster vacuum cleaner every day. I figured she’s probably tired of the same. It’s light, runs on a rechargeable battery and does a good job.
It’s kind of like a mixer. But I bought it for her.
I’m taking my chances, I know, though I won’t be in Ohio for Mother’s Day, so she can’t possibly hit me with it. And she’s in her 70s now, not 31, so a little extra something to help her around the house can’t be all bad, right?
But tormenting myself over whether the gift would torment my mother got me thinking: What do I give her when I get home for vacation in June and discover she hates the thing worse than the mixer she received forty-some years ago? And just what is a good Mother’s Day present, anyway?
Theater Tickets: You know my mom because yours may be just like her: Reluctant to splurge on such extravagance, never mind that she deserves it times one-million. I learned the hard way that buying tickets for a specific day for a specific show isn’t smart. Better, give her a gift certificate for a theater and let her decide what to see and when to go. And don’t forget community theaters. Those shows can be at least as enjoyable as the big productions.
Manicure and Pedicure: Same as above on the “extravagance,” but fingers and toes are where my mother does splurge. How much better to have her do so without the guilt. And so many of these establishments are locally owned, you get the bonus of helping keep someone else’s mom in business.
The Philips Air Fryer: Full disclosure here: My younger brother’s company sells these things, but I’ve got one and they are a cooking-for-one’s best friend — and a lot of moms are cooking for one. They can cook for more people than that, but the great thing is there’s absolutely nothing you can’t cook in these things in 15 minutes or less, with no giant oven to pre-heat, no mess, and you can cook with little or no oil. It’s changed my life for the better, which, I know, is sad.
Car-Wash Coupons: Once all my brothers were out of the house, my mother’s No. 1 priority switched from thwarting anybody from starting a fire in their bedroom to having a clean car. Oh, how moms love a clean car. But a 30 percent chance of rain? Let’s not chance it, they think. Unless, of course, they have a coupon. Do small businesses a favor and find a locally owned carwash, and the owners will love you almost as much as your mother will.Dinner for Two: My dad died a long time ago. A lot of dads did. But that’s all the more reason to spring for two meals (or two theater tickets) for mom. Nobody wants to tell a friend, “Hey, I have an idea. Let’s go out to eat. Mine’ll be free and you can pay for yours.” Sure, you could give her a gift card to use as she wants, but to make sure she actually goes out to eat, find a local restaurant that offers gift certificates for their establishment and give her one of those.
Todd Richissin is an associate editorial director for Patch.