Jennifer Fulwiler is a writer and speaker who converted to Catholicism after a life of atheism. She’s a contributor to the books The Church and New Media and Atheist to Catholic: 11 Stories of Conversion, and is writing a book based on her personal blog, ConversionDiary.com. She and her husband live in Austin, TX with their five young children, and were featured in the nationally televised reality show Minor Revisions. You can follow her on Twitter at @conversiondiary.
Mother’s Day is this Sunday! As an aid to the many men out there who get stressed out trying to find nice gifts for their wives or mothers, I chatted with some mom friends and came up with a list of gifts that would be most meaningful to us. Interestingly, we didn’t set out with any budget in mind; it just so happened that all our favorite ideas were free. Whether you’re scrambling for last-minute suggestions or already have an elaborate celebration planned, each of the following simple ideas is sure to be a hit with any mom.
1. Make a “Why I Love My Mom” video with the kids
Find about 15 minutes when your wife will be out of the house, and grab the kids and the family video camera. Have each one of them take turns sitting in front of the camera and completing the sentence, “I love my mom because ...” Especially with little ones, it might take them a second to warm up, but keep the camera rolling. They’ll eventually start talking. Download the footage onto your computer and send it to your wife—or, for a fancier touch, burn it onto a DVD and gift wrap it. (Note: Doing the same thing for grandmothers is always a huge hit.)
2. Make a “Why I Love My Wife” video
Get a tripod or enlist someone to hold the video camera while you complete the sentence, “I love my wife because ...” Now, don’t be intimidated by this: It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare. It doesn’t have to be long. Even just 30 seconds of you thinking out loud about what makes your wife special would make an incredibly meaningful gift for your better half.
3. Tell your wife what she does that you think is difficult
My fellow stay-at-home mom friends were particularly excited about this one. One of the tough things about staying home with kids is that you don’t get a lot of recognition for the challenges you face. Unlike when you’re in the workforce, the only other adult to see the fruits of your daily efforts is your spouse. On top of that, the culture at large sees the work of the modern housewife as full of trivialities, mostly busywork that is unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Because of this, a husband can really make his wife’s day by telling her what, specifically, she does that’s impressive to him. A card with a note letting her know that you notice and care about the effort she puts forth on a daily basis would go a long way (e.g. “I have no idea how you keep up with two little kids and still keep the house beautiful,” “I love how you’re always trying new recipes and putting so much care into our dinners,” “It’s amazing that you can manage the household schedule for five busy people,” etc.)
4. Give her a blank task list
Create a little gift card on your computer (or with good old fashioned construction paper) titled “TO BE DONE BY MAY 31” with three blank lines below it. The gift is that your wife gets to fill out three small household projects that you promise to complete by the end of the month. This is great for busy households where it’s hard to get to even the simplest to-do list items, like changing the light bulb in the garage or fixing a dripping faucet.
5. Take a day off from work
If you can swing it, arrange with your employer to take a day off from work, and have the kids plan to skip activities (and maybe even leave school early) so that you can have a mid-week family fun day. Announce this plan to your wife on Mother’s Day as her delayed gift. You don’t even have to plan to do anything fancy or go anywhere special. I can’t explain it, but most wives find it very touching when their husbands go to the effort of arranging time away from work to give their families their full attention.
6. Create a family memory book
Online stores like Snapfish and Shutterfly make it very quick and easy to upload photos and create beautiful, meaningful gift books. Also consider scanning in letters, report cards, award certificates, etc. to include alongside the pictures. Or, for a cheaper, faster, but equally heart-felt gift, create a collection of correspondence by printing out emails or photocopying letters between you, your wife, your kids, and other friends and family members, and put it into a decorative binder. Even if it’s not fancy, she’s sure to be touched by the effort.
Needless to say, a lot of these suggestions my friends and I came up with are geared towards mothers with children at home. What are some suggestions for moms of adult children, or “like a mom” friends and relatives who may not have children of their own?