What do mothers really want? Millions of American children will be pondering that question as they finish up their Mother’s Day shopping, stand in line at florists’ shops and pick over the few greeting cards still on the racks. For years we have heard our own mothers reply, “I’ll like whatever you choose, dear,” as we desperately grasped for some hints about what kind of gift might be welcome on the second Sunday in May. Now, having had some experience as mothers ourselves, we can assure you that most mothers mean what they say.
It’s not that the gift is entirely irrelevant; one mother of our acquaintance admits that, on her first Mother’s Day as an honoree, she was a bit disappointed that her husband and 2-month-old son presented her with a new broom. But, within the wide range of acceptable gifts--in our book, everything from handmade pot holders, straight from nursery school, to jewels from the collection of the Duchess of Windsor--mothers don’t much care what lies inside the gift wrapping. What they really want is a little attention--whether it’s breakfast in bed, served by the kids, or a walk around the block with a grown-up son who usually seems preoccupied, or a chance to put up their feet while someone else puts the baby down for her nap.
In this society mothers are expected to be endlessly patient, unfailingly selfless, always willing to put everyone else’s needs first--unrealistic demands, given that mothers are, after all, only human. Don’t worry about what they want. By the time Mother’s Day rolls around, what most mothers need is a little tender loving care themselves. (A gold locket would also be nice.)