A gift for mom. We are bombarded with ads about what Mom wants for Mother’s Day, Christmas, her birthday, whatever, and there are a lot of good ideas. From days at the spa to that new clay machine she’s been wanting and from a new bike to that tea cup she’s been eyeing, there are lots of things mom will be happy to get.
I have an idea for a gift for mom that is both harder than any of those listed above and free. It literally costs nothing, but it does take a mind shift, a commitment to training yourself, and thought- not just on Mother’s Day but all year long.
For me and the moms I know it is the single best gift we could ever receive and one many of us have probably never thought of. Whether it’s because it feels impossible- like a dream that could never come true, don’t know how to articulate the importance of it, or feels like our place in the family is not worthy of being documented, many moms would not ask for this gift.
So, on behalf of moms everywhere I am going to ask you for this gift. It is one that will keep on giving, will touch her, and will bring a joy and closeness to your family not just now, but when the kids are older and living lives that don’t involve mom on a daily basis.
What Made Me think of this Gift for Mom?
My husband wished me a Happy Mother’s Day on Facebook today. It was a sweet post and I was glad for it. As I looked at the picture of myself and my kids I noticed how dated it was. It was taken at least 2 years ago.
That was before my son towered over me. While I could still envelope my whole daughter in a snuggle. It’s a lovely photo and it’s a few years old.
I’m a super curious person by nature. I am always wondering and asking about why people make the choices they do. I was curious about why my husband chose this particular photo and thought about it while showering. It occurred to me quickly that it might be the most recent photo he has of me and the kids.
Sure, I have lots of selfies of me with my kids, but even if I had a selfie stick to capture more of the background of our lives, every image is highly posed and planned.
As I thought about why my husband might have chosen this particular photo, I had some big emotion. It wasn’t anger. It wasn’t sadness. It wasn’t a feeling of betrayal or entitlement. It felt for a moment like I’d been invisible. Unseen. Not a part of this existence.
My husband is a great guy who adores his wife and family. It is not an intentional choice that his most recent photo of us is several years old. I mean, I have 36K photos on my phone (no joke) and nearly all are of my family. Our family’s life together is certainly well documented.
Or, is it?
If someone were to look back on my family life during this season- the one of my kids being born and growing into teenagers, they would see my husband and kids hiking. My husband and our young son standing at the ocean’s edge holding hands looking out, my husband helping my daughter into a go cart, my husband and kids moving through life, loving each other, helping each other, cooking together, walking together, snuggling together, talking together, napping together, petting animals at the petting zoo together, sitting at the table together, riding bikes together, walking through amusement parks together… I’m sure it looks exactly the same as the photo roll of the mother of your children.
We have an unimaginable amount of documentation of how you and your children live life together. The everyday, banal, mundane, nothing/everything moments. The ones that you and your children will look back at one day recalling moments. Remembering things you otherwise would have forgotten. Laughing. Smiling. Feeling. Connecting. What a gift you have been given!
My photo roll is a wonderful documentation of our spectacular life. Except, if someone were looking back on it it would seem I was not part of it.
Other than the selfies I take, and the photos I ask for (once in al blue moon when I think of it and so we are posed), my belonging in this family is not felt in our photos. I don’t need an ego boost. I am central to our family and confident in the life I have driven us to create.
What makes me feel such big emotion is thinking about my kids looking through these photos when they are older. Even if they aren’t able to name the feeling swirling around their hearts, they would know I was missing. Invisible. Wonder where I was.
They too know I am central to this family, just like my husband knows. They love me. I bring them warmth, fun, comfort, adventure, excitement, snuggles, and joy. We are always doing fun things. We have laughing fits at least 6 times a day. We find new places to explore and return to the ones we love.
We snuggle while standing at the counter, sitting on the couch, walking out to the car, and sitting at a restaurant. We watch movies and pop popcorn. We play video games and board games. We cook and bake and do science experiments and create. We lay on the floor and play with our guinea pigs for hours.
We do so much life. Just like the mom of your kids. But when my kids are older, and they look back through our photos, they won’t have any to remind them of those times, or rather, that I was there too. Loving them. Looking at them with such adoration it could pore through the screen. Being with them; present, engaged, happy.
In the digital age of photography, when the problem is not getting a good photo but deciding which 10,000 to delete, this feels like a missed opportunity.
What is this Gift for Mom you Speak of?
So, my suggestion for a gift for mom doesn’t have to happen on Mother’s Day at all. Or her birthday. Or Christmas. It can start right now, whenever you are reading this, at this very moment; start taking pictures of the mother of your children as she does life with them.
Don’t think to take the photo only when she asks, or when you’ve reached the top of the mountain. Grab that handy-dandy and easy to reach phone that’s right there in your pocket and snap a quick photo while she is reaching back for your daughter’s hand to help her over the terrain.
Don’t take a photo just in front of the Grand Canyon. Take a photo when she and her precious son are resting their heads together napping on the plane. Trust me, that is a photo she will look at over and over and over again. Forever. The emotion and recollection that comes to her when looking at this photo will be incomparable to anything else.
Don’t take a photo just because the scenery is beautiful, take a photo of your wife grabbing her stomach while she can barely breathe as she laughs with your children.
Don’t only take a photo of your partner and kids in front of the cupcakes they are proud of baking, take a photo of your wife showing your son how to sift flour.
Don’t take the requested photo of your wife in front of the historic house with her children without taking a photo of them walking toward it together, happily.
These photos don’t have to be professional quality but they should be thoughtfully taken. If you don’t know how to get a decent photo take 10 minutes to learn a basic or two. It’s not hard and there is literally limitless information available for free. Google it.
This gift for mom is not an easy one. It doesn’t allow you to go buy something, give it, and be done for another year. This is a real gift for mom. One that gives a part of yourself every single time you think to pull out your phone and snap a photo- a tangible reminder to your wife of exactly how tiny her baby’s hand looked in hers. What life was like when she was taller than both of her children. How it felt when her son snuggled with her while watching Stranger Things. How your daughter looked at her with stars in her eyes during a moment that, to the outside world, didn’t seem special at all.
When your children, partner, and yourself look back on the family photos, give all of them (and you!) the gift of your wife being tangibly represented. It does not matter how old your children are- start now. Maybe it’s even starting with grown children or grandchildren. It doesn’t matter. Just start. Right now. Today.
This Mother’s Day, you could commit to taking photos of your wife all year long, so that next Mother’s Day, you can look back -and she can look back- and have your eyes fill up with tears at just how beautiful life has been together. Your family can exhale with the documented inclusion of mom. Proof that she really was there. And in 5 or 15 or 25 years, your children can look back on these photos and lovingly recall that mom was there for that moment, too.Thank you so much for reading! Follow Pondering Jen on social or sign up for our newsletter to stay connected!