“No one ever says thank you to a mother.”
The comment from my wife did not come entirely out of the blue. We had just sat down for our daily break of cappuccino and pan de yucca. This is our free thinking time. We use the opportunity to bring up and talk over ideas and thoughts that might otherwise get shoved to the back of the mind.
I listened and then amended her idea some to include Mr. Moms as well. My wife, as usual, has a point. Primary care takers have jobs that people, especially spouses, take for granted. It is believed that they are just supposed to do them and no extra credit should be given for it. Therefore all satisfaction for doing a very good job is pretty much left to the individual.
No wonder people like to go to work. There is usually someone to stroke their ego. They have a way to measure their progress with a paycheck. And there is a social aspect of being able to talk with adults.
How much more often does it happen that the significant other says to the primary care taker something like, “Why did you do …” or “Why didn’t you do …” instead of thanking them for taking care of things.
Businesses know the value of saving a dollar and reward those who save the company money. Mothers at home usually hear more comments of, “Why did you buy …,” rather than “Nice savings on …”
My wife and I took our thoughts and questions to the social group. That means brining the subject up during conversations with friends, relatives and students. There is definitely an agreement among all that primary care takers, and especially moms, do not hear enough the words, “Thank you.”
The above comment is not to impose the belief that everyone is guilty. Many adequately show their appreciation. It is from those that we present some hints and tips for saying them to mothers.
Responsibility falls to both the children and the significant other. Often it is the father’s responsibility to teach, especially the boys, how to treat the mother. As my father always told me, “The best way to lead is by example.” Rather meaning don’t just tell the kids to thank their mother. Thank her yourself in front of them. At the end of dinner before the children run off to play (or do homework), make sure they hear you say something like, “Lovely dinner. Thank you.” After that you look at the oldest son to see if your action prompts him to do the same. If he does not get the hint then do not correct him in front of his mother. Instead advise him in private about the correct etiquette.
Another way to help thank the special person is to consider more carefully any sentence you start with the word “why.” From observations we noted that many times when a sentence begins with that word it puts the other person on the defensive and keeps them from accepting a kind remark later. Instead of coming home and saying something like, “Why isn’t dinner ready,” rephrase it as “Anything I can help with?”
Even if you had a bad day it is possible that the other person had an even worse day. Remember that the objective is to present a nice pleasant dinner time and not have a contest of who had the worst day.
This next part is borrowed from the movie Finding Forester. It is something I have found to work very well. “The key to a woman’s heart is an unexpected gift at an unexpected time.”
That statement is pretty much self evident. However it was the Colombians who taught me a bit more about what the gift should be. Americans, it seems, work under the idea that more is better and expensive is best. I blame advertising for that concept. Over 50% of the population of Colombia earns less than $400 a month. Small thoughtful gifts work much better than expensive gifts that do not show that you were thinking about the receiver. For example: do not show up with a big box of chocolates for a person on a diet.
Also know the difference between a gift you give and something that should be picked out together. Sure she may have been hinting at a new vacuum sweeper, but don’t just buy one and bring it home.
The greatest mistake I hear about Americans comes from the phrase, “It’s the thought that counts.” Many take the expression to mean that even though you purchase an inappropriate gift that it is OK because at least you were thinking of giving something. No; the meaning refers to the fact that it does not have to be an expensive gift, but you thought of the other person and what they would like when you purchased it. The thought that you put into getting the correct gift for the person and occasion is more important than the cost or quantity of the gift itself. It is the thought put into choosing the gift that counts.
Presentation is another area where many people fail. Businesses know that you can have the best product or give the best deal, but it is the presentation that really sells it. Heck, presentation can make a low cost gift very special. Don’t present her with a large bouquet of flowers while she is making dinner and has to take time to find a vase. Instead set a single rose in a very nice small vase on her night stand while she is getting ready for bed.
Remember that this is supposed to be an intimate thing. You are saying thanks to a special person and they should feel that way. So, no billboard signs, sky writing or massive displays at restaurants.
Also be careful that you are not causing her additional work. This means such things as she should not be responsible for finding a babysitter because you have decided to take her out to dinner.
Remember you have to show thought that you understand the person and you need to present it in a way to make her feel special. Here are a few ideas from what others have done.
A Snickers bar with a bow on it and a hand made card that says “Thank You.”
A framed photo of her and your child together given in a candlelit dining room after the kids have been put to bed and with a glass of red wine waiting.
A certificate made on the computer given to her on Halloween. The certificate reads, “Award for Best Costume Design.”
Keep in mind that mothers are never too old for children to say those two words to them.
When my wife and I visited Fenton earlier this year my mother gave us a place to stay and purchased food that I missed eating. Thank you mom.