Why I don’t want any presents for Mother’s Day

Di Westaway |CEO Wild Women On Top & Coastrek | Author | Speaker

Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.” Robert Browning

A few years ago, happily deluded and beefed-up with the kind of bravado and courage that comes from one gin and tonic too many at a family barbeque, I decided it was time to be the boss on Mother’s Day.

After all, as a mother of three, if I wasn’t allowed to have “my perfect” day on Mother’s Day, why be a mum? Being a loving, nurturing 24/7 slave, cook, chauffeur, toilet cleaner, teacher, breadwinner, counsellor and failed domestic goddess gets boring after a while so I decided it was time to face my fear of rejection. To take control.

I racked my brains to remember a childhood Mother’s day and found only vague memories of taking mum a cup of tea in bed before Sunday School. Commercially enhanced rituals didn’t feature highly on my mum’s priority list but I’m sure we made her a card and did the dishes without killing each other.  

Not being one for cheap perfume and bath salts or even breakfast in bed with the weekend papers, I decided to take advantage of this annual opportunity to inflict my lifestyle on my kids by making them come rock climbing.

It just so happened that my mum was also in town so I dragged the whole friggin family into the bush to dangle off the sandstone cliffs of Sydney’s northern beaches. How selfish to do that to grandma. But she was thrilled to be invited.

Foolishly I imagined that given it was Mother’s Day, they would all have a great day out. Or if not they’d pretend, just to show how much they loved me.

After all they weren’t required to contemplate what gifts I might like or spend their hard earned pocket money on flowers or cards. They didn’t even have to get up early to put the kettle on. I just wanted a family adventure.

I expected them to have fun pulling themselves up vertical rock faces to feel the awesome buzz of getting to the top and the fabulous feeling of adventure. What could possibly go wrong in a team activity when one family member holds another family member’s life in their hands and a momentary lapse in concentration can end in sudden death?

And what a great way to sort out last night’s food fight over the last mouthful of Sarah Lee Ultra Chocolate Ice Cream.

And of course, no rock climbing adventure is complete without a few tick bites in the soft folds of your nether regions and a bit of blood from when your foot slips and your lip gets in the way of your teeth hitting the cliff.

Dragging the family out rock climbing for Mother’s Day was a disaster.

As it turned out, my beautiful mum saved the day. She was the only one who behaved herself. Granny happily belayed the mob like a pro. But my teenagers and the four-year-old just fought and squabbled as if they were stuck at the table in a fancy restaurant without their i-pods.

Remembering past Mothers’ Days when planning this year’s special day is a great way ensure you get the experience you want. I’ve learned to take responsibility for ensuring I have fun. Why risk it?

One year, I found myself unexpectedly stuck at Everest Base Camp in Tibet. Turns out, it was a very memorable day after I tracked down another mum’s satellite phone to call the kids. And nobody was forced to go rock climbing against their will.

Then there was the “fun run” feeling of the Mother’s Day Classic. I’ve never found the actual running “fun” but the post-run endorphins are great. Getting those happy hormones while fundraising for cancer research is a winner and much more exhilarating than pink chrysanthemums or 4711 Eau De Cologne.

I’d rather not lounge around eating and drinking all day before falling into bed two tummy rolls bigger than yesterday. I’ve tried that.

So, this year I Facebook messaged my kids, “NO breaky in bed, NO flowers, NO perfume, NO soap, NO chocolates. Just come bush walking with me.”

Then I realised we’ve already got a Flipout Trampoline birthday party with family this Sunday. Perfect. We’re all together and nobody can blame me if they break a leg.

But there’ll be absolutely NO presents. A family micro-adventure is much more memorable. 


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