Making your mother happy is the simplest thing in the world…although, the way some grown up kids behave you could be forgiven for thinking it’s the hardest.
I should start by saying I have no complaints about my adult son and daughter…well, not too many anyway, but the horror stories I hear from some of my friends when we get together makes you wonder how so many children can be so thoughtless, despite being well brought up and cared for from the moment they were born. Maybe that was the problem, they were given too much.
On the other hand, there are the children who seem almost too good to be true, like the brother and sister who sent their parents on a two-week holiday and then redecorated their home while they were away.
But let’s not dwell on that. I appreciate there will be young people reading this who want ideas for making mum feel appreciated and I don’t want to set the bar too high with heroic tales of redecorating a whole house. That’s over and above the call of duty.
Thankfully, the secret to making your mother happy is so much simpler.
Make your mum happy with the gift of time
Let’s start with the number one complaint mothers have about their grown-up children and it won’t cost you anything to put right…time.
More specifically, your time. That time you spend working, socialising, shopping and all the other things you ‘simply can’t avoid’ that limit the times you can get to visit your poor old mum.
Every mother loves spending time with her children, no matter how grown up or old they are.
Let me sum up how your mum feels with these two wonderful lines I once heard on a radio show discussing ideas for Mother’s Day presents.
Thank you for the chocolates and the lovely flowers too
But all I really want my son is an hour or two with you.
I only heard those lines once, but they spoke such universal truth that I can still remember them word for word. I don’t know who wrote them but if I did, I would credit her and recommend her for the Nobel Prize for Literature.
I don’t want to be too hard on the thoughtlessness of youth, because we were all young once…yes even your mum, but young people can be a bit preoccupied with their own concerns and blind to how much their mothers yearn to see them.
So, think it through, like the poem says, it’s not about the chocolates or the flowers, or whatever else you might have bought at the last minute because it was the only thing available at the garage on the road to your mother’s house. It’s all about time.
So, given the choice between you walking in with some chocolates and spending five minutes with her before dashing off somewhere ‘terribly urgent’ or walking in with no chocolates but ready to sit down with her for a few hours, have a cup of tea while chatting away…which do you think your mum would prefer?
The more you talk, the happier your mum will be
Chatting over a cup of tea brings us on to the next most important way to make your mother happy…talk to her. Talk to her at length; talk about important things, talk about trivial things, sad things, amusing things…anything at all.
If it involves you, no matter how trivial, your mother will love hearing about it.
Your news doesn’t have to be earth shattering. If you bought a pair of shoes but then had to return them because they squeezed your toes too much, that will be a worthwhile anecdote to your mother. She’ll worry about your toes and be pleased you had the good sense to return the shoes.
Imagine then how excited she would be to hear that you’re dating someone new, or are considering changing jobs, or how her grandkids are doing at school.
Talking to your mother, telling her about your thoughts and feelings, means you are including her in your life. This is very important because so many mothers feel a little excluded and that’s not a nice way to feel when you’ve devoted your whole life to someone.
Make time to listen to your mother
Talking and telling your mother about your life is the most important part of any conversation you have with her but listening to her is important too.
You listen to your friends when they have problems or issues that concern them. Well, your mum also has issues that concern her, and there are times when she might appreciate telling you about them and getting your feedback.
Let’s not overstate this. The relationship between parent and child is rarely, if ever, as open as the relationship between friends: there are some personal things that neither you or your mum will want to reveal to each other in the way you might confide in your friends, but that still leaves plenty of scope for conversations discussing each other’s feeling and concerns.
Make sure you have a good listening ear when it’s needed.
Your mother loves you…make her like you too
This is one of the most common complaints that mothers have about their grown-up children.
This problem can express itself in all sorts of ways. There are the grown-up daughters who automatically assume that mum will buy lunch when you meet for a catch-up, or the son who thinks it’s no problem to turn up on the doorstep with a pile of dirty washing, stays two minutes and says he’ll be back later that same day to pick it up.
It’s not that your mum minds paying the bill or doing some washing, it’s the presumptuousness that can be annoying.
You wouldn’t behave that way with your friends, or if you did, they wouldn’t be friends for long, so why act that way with your mum?
That kind of behaviour may have been tolerated when you were a stroppy teenager but you’re an adult now. When you’re an adult you’re supposed to put away childish ways, or at least, the unpleasant childish ways.
This sounds so obvious it’s surprising that it has to be said but unfortunately, it does. It’s not uncommon for some adults, even those in their 30s and 40s, to somehow revert back towards childhood when they’re with their parents.
They indulge themselves in feelings of not having to try because mum is there to sort everything out. Well, mum has served her time and now it’s your turn to take the lead and sort things out.
Don’t foist your children on your mother
This may surprise some young people who seem to think that mum lives only to spend time with her grandkids. Well, of course your mum loves your children to pieces but it’s a question of balance.
One of the most common things you’ll hear grandparents say is that it’s great to have grandkids because you can have so much fun with them but then, unlike your own kids, you can hand them back when you’re tired.
Of course, your mum wants to see your kids and there’ll be plenty of times when she’ll be delighted to look after them to help you out. But don’t overdo it and don’t take it for granted.
Be appreciative when she looks after your kids. Don’t act like you’re doing her a favour by letting her have time with her grandkids, as if she has nothing else to do.
The reality may be that she has lots of other things to do. Think about it. While you’re out working, saving loads of money on childcare because your mum has the kids, she is stuck at home earning nothing. She might appreciate a little part time job to supplement her income, especially as so many parents don’t think it’s necessary to offer their mum anything for looking after the kids.
There’s also the social aspect. Grandkids are lovely but they are just kids. Day after day looking after them can close down your mum’s opportunities for interaction with other adults, and that too is important. Imagine if your mum’s friends are meeting up for lunch and a catch-up but she can’t make it because she’s committed to looking after your children. She’s missing out on a vital connection with friends and that can be damaging.
Make your mother proud of you…it doesn’t take much
With all this, it’s a matter of perspective. Your mum loves helping you out in whatever way she can, but don’t overdo and don’t presume. Be appreciative and show that you’re grateful. An occasional recognition of the sacrifices your mum may be making goes a long way.
Spend time with her, talk to her, pay your way and don’t think you can take her for granted in the way you may have done when you were a child.
All which brings us to our conclusion, something that may be a startling revelation to some: mums are people too, just like your friends and workmates. They have their ambitions, hopes, fears and dreams.
Treat your mum the way you’d like to be treated yourself. You will make her so happy.
You’ll feel pretty good too because you’ll realise that you have finally grown up and become the wonderful person your mum always knew you could be.
Now get on that phone and give your mum a call.