What do moms really want? That could be a loaded question.  But it’s one I’m asking and  guessing offspring and husbands everywhere ask every year as Mother’s Day rolls around.

For days, I’ve been seeing posts and videos in my Facebook feed about what moms want for Mother’s Day. Some are the usual and expected “gift item” and some are even quite funny. This got me to thinking about what I would put on my own “really want” list. Then contemplating what other moms would put on their list  That spiraled to thinking how moms in different age brackets and with different aged children probably have different lists. Yeah, my mind works like that.

I’m sort of an anomaly in all this because I’m older than most moms with only one child entering the teen years very soon. I mean let’s be real. Most moms in my age group are graduating their kids from high school or college. They’re attending their child’s wedding or enjoying grandkids. So my perspective is….shall we say….different.  Anyways, I decided to put together a collection of  points and ideas of “what moms really want” at various ages and stages of motherhood. In most cases, these apply to the kids and husbands. But they may be something you can “gift” to sisters, daughters, friends.

The New Mom

New moms want two things….Sleep and a shower/bath. That’s it! Both are hard to come by when you have a teeny tiny little person demanding all your time and attention. They also need good healthy, tasty food. It takes a lot of nourishment to heal from the trauma to the body that is pregnancy and childbirth. If they’re breastfeeding, that’s even more demand for nourishment to them and baby. If there’s a new mom on your list this Mother’s Day, why not give them all three of these to carry them. Volunteer to be their “Mother’s Helper” for a day. Care for baby (and other children) while they shower and sleep uninterrupted for as long as possible. Prepare a few nutritious meals they can easily move from cold storage or freezer to the slow cooker or Instant Pot with little effort or thought. Because “mommy brain” is a real thing! This is a gift you just can’t buy on Amazon, y’all. If you can commit to once or twice a month for the first 6-9 months after baby comes home, even better.

The Toddler Mom

Mothering littles is very demanding. When I had a toddler, you wanna know what I really wanted? A clean house (that I didn’t clean) and time alone to relax and do something just for me.  One of the best gifts my husband gave me in the early years of motherhood was cleaning the house for me because he knew I was overwhelmed. He helped with our home tasks daily. Often he did all the cleaning by himself. Laundry, toilets, crannies, and all. You have no idea how much these simple acts restored me. He also gave me a nice gift certificate for services and products at a local day spa and salon once. I went alone for an afternoon of pampering and primping. I had real conversations with real adults and came home to a clean house, a happy little boy who was clean and fed, and an appreciative husband. Gold, I tell you! GOLD!

If you have a toddler mom on your list, give them the gift of no toys to pick up or dishes to wash. Remove the spilled juice to wipe up, little sticky faces and hands to clean, or toilets to scrub from her radar. Offer to clean her home or hire a maid service to come clean. Either way works as far as I’m concerned. But choose whichever is more comfortable for the mom. Make arrangements for her to spend some time alone or with friends doing something just for them without kids in tow. You might be surprised just how quickly not having to be “Susie Homemaker” or “Super Mom” for a few hours will bring a smile and renew her.

The Elementary Mom

The mom with elementary aged kids is at a stage in motherhood that’s interesting. At this stage, she’s filling a lot of sub-roles. She’s a teacher, chauffeur, cook, housekeeper. She’s a personal shopper, organizer, event planner, schedule coordinator, emergency manager. She’s a receptionist, nurse, nutritionist, safety specialist. She finds herself being an interpreter, proof-reader, problem-solver, investigator. We can’t forget cheerleader, referee, judge, warden, guard. And the list goes on. The elementary mom barely has time to eat, sleep and breathe much less spend time on herself or her marriage. Her list of wants and needs are many. Here’s a list of what you can give her.

  • uneventful and non-resistance bedtimes
  • no-rush mornings
  • dinner together as a family
  • help with the cleaning every day
  • help with meals and cooking regularly
  • help with laundry
  • less laundry
  • hire a maid service to clean the home
  • hire an organizer to help put the home in order and declutter
  • help with the chauffeuring and running
  • offer to do the shopping every now and again
  • a night out with the girls
  • a full day to herself each month
  • date nights or occasional weekends alone with hubby
  • regular spa days
  • peace and quit with no fighting or refereeing required
  • control of the remote
  • a sizable stash of chocolate all to herself
  • no whine or squabbling
  • prompt action without being reminded, asked or told repeatedly to do something
  • anything and everything that makes her life easier and less stressful.

The Tween Mom

The mom of a tween is entering a new place in motherhood that’s both encouraging and as scary as heck. She finally has a little more free time as her kid(s) are old enough to be more responsible for their space and time. WooHoo! However, her child(ren) are now in the early stages of puberty or soon will be. Plus they’re beginning to find themselves and assert more independence. These moms never know when and if they will get Jeckyll or Hyde from one minute to the next. As much as the kid(s) are going through and on an emotional roller-coaster, the tween mom is going through it with them plus having to learn to let go a little bit. They often feel very alone in this transitional time as everything begins to change. It’s a rocky time of motherhood for sure. Even more uncertain and overwhelming than being the new mom for the first time. What tween moms want most of all is consistency, stability, and peaceful transition.

Extended loved ones and friends can’t give much here beyond support and experienced guidance. But the tween mom’s kids and husband can offer and provide a lot. Do your part to make her life easier and less tumultuous. Help out around the house without being reminded, asked or expecting anything in return. Stick to schedules as closely as possible because her survival often depends on her routines staying intact.  Don’t be demanding or expect her to bend to your whims or be “Joanie-On-The-Spot” just because you want or need something. Be considerate of her feelings, wants and needs, anticipating them when you can and asking what she needs and wants when you can’t. Be considerate of her time. She’s not the doer-of-all-the-things you don’t want to do or think you need. Give her some breathing room and let her find her new role in motherhood at this stage of the game. She’s treading water here. Basically….Don’t be a brat!

The Teen Mom

Like with “The Tween Mom”, the teen mom is teetering on the brink more often than not. She’s still getting use to to her “baby” not being a baby anymore. It happened when she was busy folding laundry, wiping snotty noses, and picking up a million toys. She’s having to resolve herself to her child/children being an individual in their own right and almost a grown up who’ll be leaving the nest sooner rather than later. Her kids do not need her in the same way or as much as they use to. She’s finding this stage of motherhood somewhat uncomfortable at best and downright terrifying at worst. At the same time, puberty and independence are still at the forefront for her kid(s), making things rather unstable and a daily struggle. What does she want most?

She wants the same as she did when she was a tween mom. Plus she wants to still be needed, included, and appreciated for the things she does in the home and as the mom and wife. She’s finding her role at this stage more emotional than physical much of the time as she’s forced to let go in much bigger ways that are frightening. She’s prepping herself emotionally, mentally and physically for the time her kid(s) will be out on their own. What can you give her? Trust and respect.

Kids, trust her experience and wisdom. She knows a thing or two. Trust her love for you. She’s your safety net.  Include her in your life and decisions. Share with her. Don’t shut her out or give her holy hell. I assure you. She remembers the teen years very well and is not as stupid or disagreeing as you think she is. It’s still her job to protect you and keep you safe. Give her a chance to show you she gets it while she does that.

Husbands, here’s where you can shine. Stop seeing her as “the mom” or “the housekeeper”. See her as the woman she is and has become as well as the one you are attracted to and share your life (and bed) with. Make her feel young, vibrant, sexy. Make sure she knows she’s the apple of your eye and you respect her, adore her, think she’s better than sliced bread. Connect and share yourself as well as time and attention with her. Date her. Don’t just live with her. She’s not your roommate.

And please, whether you’re the kid or the husband in this….don’t take her for granted. Yes, she knows you love and appreciate her, but she needs to be reminded….often.

The College Mom

Next, we have the college mom. She’s spent 19+ years (counting pregnancy) being “the source” of everything or most things for her kid(s). Now, just like that and in what seems to her like a blink of the eye, the child/children she’s poured everything into is pretty much an adult, both age-wise and maturity-wise. She’s no longer “the source” she once was. She now has a new role in motherhood and in the process, she’s having to redefine herself and discover what makes her tick in a way that’s very foreign. What does she want? She wants to know she did a good job of raising her kids, giving them what they needed, and preparing them for life and the real world. She wants to see her kids succeed, thrive and flourish in their new roles as an adult.

If you’re the kid here, you can give her all that and more. Like before, don’t shut her out or disregard her. Sure, you want and need privacy and don’t have to share everything with your mom. She understands you have things you don’t want to share. Call her, come home to visit her, spend time with her. Make home and family as important as friends and school. She misses you. Bon’t just come home or call with your hand out, your laundry piles for her to wash or do the tasks you don’t want to do. She’s your safe place to land but she is not your maid and never has been. Seek her guidance with decisions you’re facing. Let her know what’s happening in your life. FYI, she’s gonna worry or fret if you don’t. Show her she’s an intricate part of the person you are and will be in the future. Because she is.

Husbands, continue the course from the teen mom years. But step it up a notch. She has a lot going on mentally and needs that extra boost from you that she’s not failed nor is she old and “used up”. If she’s at or nearing menopause, she also has a lot going on physical. Be compassionate to that. It’s not easy on her by any means. Keep the fires burning and the light shining on her as a woman and on you and she as a couple….older, more experienced, wiser, and yes, comfortable but not boring or “routine”. Be her friend, lover, partner in everything, while giving her room to be independent of you and the person she’s evolved into. She’s been “mom” for so long, it may be hard for her to shift gears at this point in life. Encourage her to try new things or showcase her talents and skills. Help her embark on this new phase in her life with grace and enthusiasm, and enjoy where and who she is.

The Empty Nest Mom

The empty nest mom is really not much different from the college mom. She’s raised her kids and let them go. All the same applies to her but now with a different intensity. Now that her kids are grown and on their own with a life and family of their own, she’s left with the life, home and family she’s made plus a new one to look forward to. She has her routines and schedule down pat and her methods of doing things are well established. Yes, she can still use help with the day to day but not nearly as much as it was needed in the past. Now she has much more free time on her hands to explore interests, seek to fulfill her life dreams and accomplish goals. Help her do that, whatever “that” may be and in whatever way works for her and you.

Kids, she’s still mom and always will be. But now she can also be a dear and treasured friend in a way that wasn’t possible or practical before. Don’t let that gem of a relationship get away from you. You still need her and she still needs you. Just in different ways than before. Keep her close because I assure you, no one will ever fill that place in your heart that she fills. Never. And the same applies to her with you. Give her time and friendship. That’s the greatest gift you can give her as an adult.

Husbands, she’s still the girl you fell in love with and married. Older and wiser with more experience. Maybe with more gray in her hair and more pounds and inches here or there. But still that girl with many of the same hopes and dreams. Or evolved versions of them. You’re her partner. Act like it. You’re her other half and the one she’s devoted her life and heart to. Remember that. She’s the queen of your life. Treat her as such.

Give the empty nest mom all the things she’s worked very hard for over the years…..respect and appreciation, validation and value, joy and peace, comfort and compassion, assurance and adventure, unconditional companionship and immeasurable support. She’s earned it!

In Closing…..

No matter what stage of motherhood a woman may be in, the things that mean the most to her….the gifts that are priceless and make the biggest impressions are the ones that come from the heart and give her more than a momentary bit of pleasure or joy. Flowers, jewelry, keepsakes, purchased or made gifts, and “stuff” are all well and good and usually are appreciated and loved. But the ones that go straight to the heart and soul of a woman are the gifts that money can’t buy. These are the gifts moms really want but will often not mention or hint around about nor ask for. The above are just a few ideas to help you. Think outside the box and pay attention to what the mom on your list REALLY needs and wants. If you really look and see them and their everyday life, you will be able to nail it with no problems.

If you’re a mom reading this and it resonates with you, leave a comment with your own points of what you really want or confirming I hit it on the head here. And by all means, share it with your husband, kids, family and friends. I’ll be the catalyst for you.

Happy Mother’s Day, y’all!

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