I've always loved to write. So over the years, my mom has received her fair share of 2,000-word Mother's Day cards telling her how much she means to me. In recent years, however, I've taken the "less is more" approach and have opted for the humorous one-liner cards with a quick, "I love you" and a signature. Shame on me.
Whereas both of these approaches - and anything in between - are certainly nice, they don't take advantage of an opportunity that Mother's Day cards present. And that's the opportunity to get creative with storytelling.
This year, I'm going to make an effort to identify at least one really good story about my mom and share it with her in writing. Maybe I'll get on a roll - and multiple stories will just pen themselves. Every decade of my life brings its own selection of remembrances - some humorous and some not-so-humorous. But through telling them, so much will be said that I've never managed to get across in my lengthy cards.
It doesn't take much. An extra sheet of stationary, a few quiet moments, and a reflective mind. And you just may produce her favorite Mother's Day gift yet!
Here are a few questions to help get the juices flowing:
- What is one of your earliest memories of time spent with your mom?
- Remember a time during childhood when you were watching your mother do something that she really enjoyed ... What was it, and how did you feel as you watched her?
- What attitude about life did you get from your mom?
- What childhood images come to mind when you think of your mother (a certain flower or scent, a special dress, a favorite dish, etc.)?
- When was a time that you remember being at odds with your mom, and how did that situation eventually resolve itself?
- What is one of the greatest lessons that your mother ever directly (or indirectly) taught you?
If we're lucky, we'll celebrate dozens of Mother's Days with the wonderful women who brought us into this world. But while we may do a good job of lavishing attention upon them every May, how often do we invite our moms to share their "motherhood experiences" with us?
I've spoken with moms whose "little munchkins" are now senior citizens, but that doesn't mean that these 60+ year-old adults are no longer their "babies." After so many years and a blur of Mother's Days, we often neglect to provide a space of sharing and celebration for this ageless connection between moms and their children. And I can't think of a better way to do this than by opening the door to those beautiful stories and memories … just by asking a simple question or two.
And what better story to begin with than the moment it all began? Most questions in a life-story interview are customized to the individual, but there are a few standard ones that I always like to throw out. "Are there any special stories that you recall hearing about your birth?" is a favorite. Although I'm often met with a blank stare, I keep asking the question … because every now and then, I see a light switch on in those searching eyes, and a really amazing story surfaces --- surprising and delighting both of us!
So with Mother's Day just a month away, I encourage you to take some time to really hone-in on what this special day is all about.
Ask your mom to share with you, for example, her memories around your birth --- finding out that she was expecting, planning for your arrival, going to the hospital (or staying home), and adjusting to life with a newborn. Then move on to other questions about early motherhood ---managing household responsibilities, sending the kids to school, and spending time together as a family.
Here are some sample questions to get you started:
- What were your early surprises about motherhood?
- What were your dreams for your children?
- What was your husband like as a parent?
- Describe a typical day with your kids when they were young.
- How did your relationship with your spouse change after having kids?
- How did you discipline your children?
- How did financial circumstances affect your family life?
- What did you learn from your children?
Or make a point to share some of your own early-parenthood memories with your children. You'll be amazed at the sweet remembrances that will come flooding back … and how much fun the storytelling will be for moms and kids of all ages.