Think about all the different ways you’ve appreciated your mother over the years. What kind of gifts have you given her? Preprinted cards? Flowers? Candy? Jewelry? Clothing? I’m sure your mother enjoyed them, but have you ever wondered what she’d buy herself under the same circumstances?
In a national retailers’ poll of mothers, 49 percent of mothers expected flowers; 13 percent said they wanted them. It’s presence, not presents, that count. How much time do spend with your mother? And how much of that time do you both enjoy?
When I wrote My Mother, My Friend: The 10 Most Important Things to Talk About With Your Mother, I interviewed 400 mothers and daughters. Every mother I interviewed said the flowers and candy and other material gifts were nice, but the gift of spending time with them had the most lasting memory.
There were four types of appreciation mothers said they wanted most:
- Kindness in words and actions
- Captured memories
- Services that improve the quality of her life
Let’s look at #1 – Time. Time has a very different meaning for our mothers than it does for us. You can put off doing what you don’t have time for now and know you’ll eventually do it later. Not so with your mother. Her measurement of time is much shorter. There is more urgency for her to spend time with you now. Even if you can’t give her all the time she wants, make the time you have with her count.
As the time with my own mother grew shorter, I found myself begging God to turn back the clock. I lamented all the times I multitasked when I was with her. I’d flip through the paper or a magazine while she talked. If she phoned me, I’d open bills, cook, wash dishes, anything to feel I was being productive.
If I had it to do over again, honestly, I know I’d still do some of that, but I’d save 15 minutes just for her – no distractions. I’d listen with my full attention. I’d ask questions of interest instead of interrogating her, and I’d give her much more empathy.
I’ve learned an amazing thing about communication: when you are truly present with a person – thoughts and body – whatever you are attempting to accomplish – relaying information, persuading, complaining, empathizing – is done more efficiently and pleasurably.
If you become fidgety or bored when talking with your mom, ask yourself how engaged with her you are. Start asking more questions, or being more attentive to the conversation. Use gentler words. Talk about happy memories more often and I promise you the quality of your relationship will improve.
If you want more ideas on how to strengthen, heal, and celebrate your relationship with your mother (or daughter or any family member), my book, My Mother, My Friend has over 200 questions, as well as hundreds of tips, interviews, stories, and inspiring quotes to help you get there with less frustration and more fun, with less stress and more support, and most important, with less regrets and more love.
If you enjoy listening to audio programs, treat yourself to an mp3 you can listen to online or download immediately of a 60-minute live presentation of me speaking on My Mother, My Friend to 800 women at a women’s health conference. We learned a lot and had a lot of fun.
In this program:
- You’ll learn the ten most important topics to talk about and key questions to ask your mother
- You’ll discover the four questions most daughters want to ask their mothers but don’t and the one question that matters most
- You will laugh, shed a few tears, and learn how to communicate better while listening
- You’ll hear comments from mothers and daughters that will help you relieve stress and enjoy your
Listen to an excerpt:
“Know Your Mother, Know Yourself”
“Mother Wisdom: What Have You Learned from Mom?”
Mother’s Day Special Package
* 2 soft-cover copies of My Mother, My Friend by Mary Marcdante (reg. $12/each)
* 1 mp3 digital download of a 60 minute live presentation by Mary on My Mother, My Friend (reg. $15)
* Plus a free bonus interview (mp3 download) with Mary on “Honoring Our Mothers.” (reg. $15)
Reg. $54 – save $19!
I always enjoy hearing from you. Please share your comments below and forward this post to your friends, sisters, aunts, mom, step-mom, and grandmothers.
Happy Mother’s Day!