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Anne Mikolay

If you are adhering to social distancing, Mother’s Day, 2020, will be like no other.  Grade schoolers will offer no cards crafted in school or plants purchased for Mom at school spring flower sales. There will be no family dinners for Mom with adult offspring gathering from long distances. Needless to say, celebrating Mother’s Day, 2020, calls for a more creative approach than before.

My mother was creative in her daily parenting. She had to be; ours was not a household blessed with discretionary income. Mom relied upon her imagination to occupy her little ones. I remember sitting with my mother when I was pre-kindergarten age while she wrote letters and paid bills. Mom gave me a roll of tape and a pile of paper and taught me how to fold the paper into envelopes and seal them with tape. That afternoon, we were two ladies paying our household bills together. Mommy. Paper. Tape. Imagination!

Mom had a small child’s table and two wooden chairs for my sister and me. We frequently played “tea party” at that table, often with real tea and cookies or little sandwiches with the crust cut off. Mom emptied a section of the cabinet for me and washed out Nestles cocoa containers and milk cartons so I could have a pretend pantry and groceries of my own. She encouraged me to set the dining room table with my little play dishes and “serve” invisible food to my dolls, stuffed animals (many!), and invisible friends. She taught me to play her own childhood games, like hopscotch, jacks, and jump rope.

There were not a lot of activities for kids outside the home when I was growing up in the 60s, but Mom was never at a loss for ideas to occupy my sister and me. We colored and drew together. She sang us songs and taught us the words so we could sing, too. She read us books and took us to the library once a week. We didn’t spend much time in front of the television. We played outside. I can still hear my mother telling me, “Stop slamming the back door! Stay in or stay out!” I stayed out. Mom gave me jars to catch fireflies and bags to collect the apples that had fallen from our apple tree. I counted the apples as I put them in the bag (math!) and learned about insects in the evening (science!) My mother knew how to weave education and life lessons into our daily activities.

Indeed, children learn how to approach life and how to treat other people from their parents. I learned far more than words can say from my mother. This Mother’s Day, if you are blessed with special children in your life, teach them to creatively express their appreciation for their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and any mother figure they love. It’s neither the price nor the quality of a gift that matters; it’s the hands with which it is offered, the sentiment therein. For Mother’s Day, 2020, that sentiment must be expressed innovatively – perhaps in a colorful, homemade sign, a drive-by family parade, a song sung outside Mom’s window, or via Facebook or the phone, a bouquet of tissue paper flowers, streamers/ribbons tied around Mom’s tree, chalk-drawn greetings in her driveway, a self-composed poem or song, a choreographed dance routine, even a little one’s puppet show or a group of cheerleaders cheering for the beloved mothers in their lives.

How you commemorate Mother’s Day this year will long be remembered by your children and the mother figures in your lives. Here’s your chance to simultaneously show your mother your appreciation and teach your children how to creatively express their love. Yes, it’s a different sort of Mother’s Day this year. Let’s step up our game and make it count.