10 Ways to Honor Your Mom this Mother’s Day

When I was first married, my British husband had asked me if we needed a reminder as to when Mother’s Day in the US was.  At first, I was a little surprised by the question because being a former first grade teacher, I’ve basically got the timeline of our major holidays in the US down pat.

“Mother’s Day in the US is always the 2nd Sunday of May,” I had told him. His response?

“Really?  Every Year?”

I was baffled that this was a surprise to him, and I am pretty sure the expression on my face gave it away.

As I learned that day, Mothering Sunday (aka Mother’s Day) in the UK is actually one of those dates that changes EVERY. YEAR.  This is based on the Easter holidays.  Apparently, their Mothering Sunday is Christianity-based and so happens on the fourth Sunday in Lent, and exactly three weeks before Easter Sunday.  The US Mother’s Day is not concerned with religion, and I kind of like that the date is set.  (Can I tell you how many times we scrambled when we found out that the UK’s Mothering Sunday was much earlier than the previous year?)  Luckily, my mother-in-law was a kind and gracious woman who always appreciated a phone call, a handwritten note, and jellybeans.

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I am thinking about moms, as well as the other amazing women in my life.  To all of you, I am grateful for your humor and your wisdom, your long chats and your quick texts, your likes and your loves on social media, as well as your ideas, your inspiration, and your laughter and hugs – always the laughter and hugs.  What amazing examples you have been in my life. This holiday is for all women because I don’t think you have to be a mother to have a profound impact on the people around you.

I am excited about this blog post because while I talk about 12 ways to celebrate Mother’s Day, I am really saying: “Celebrate you.”  Take the time you need and yes – treat yo’ self!  It’s so easy to take care of everyone else, and we need to remember that to take care of others, we must take care of ourselves first.  So, treat yourself, leave hints around the house for how you want others to treat you, and tell people what you need.

I asked a dear friend what she wanted for Mother’s Day, and I loved how real her answer was.  Before I tell you what it was, know that she is a supermom to 3 wee ones and wife to an elementary school principal.  So to my question of “What’s your favorite gift or thing to do on Mother’s Day,” she responded,

“My favorite is always to not clean one single thing. It’s a bonus if we get nice weather and can do something outside so I don’t have to look at all the things I’m not cleaning.  Hike, picnic…”

Preach, mama!  If you, too, need a break from the visuals around you, consider honoring what you need.  In this season of springtime and renewal that struggle is real.

Often when I get calls from mothers booking me on Mother’s Day for a family portrait with their children and grandchildren, it’s because it’s the only day they can get everyone in one place.  Life gets busy and coordinating schedules is no small feat!  One of my favorites is when Mrs. C in San Carlos called me and asked if I was free on Mother’s Day and did I mind coming over to do a portrait session?  I was free that and was happy to capture this extended family portrait of three generations.  What a joy they were!  Seriously, this is a family that jokes and laughs and stays so very connected to one another.

Barbara Bell Photography of San Carlos, CA captures three generations of a family in this family portrait.

So when you think about how we can honor our mothers and the women in our lives who have made an impact on us, I think about spending time with them. I think about capturing their stories. I think about the things that make them smile, and I ask more questions so they’ll keep talking and sharing these gems.  I think about flowers and letters and gifts given, a small token to say, “Thank you for being there.”

I was curious how others have honored their mothers, and I asked a few close friends to share.  I hope that some of their ideas will inspire you:

  1. Create something for them: a painting, a letter, a project. It doesn’t matter what it is; it matters more that you chose to create something for them. It is something they can hold in their hands and remember for years to come.
  2. Capture them on video sharing their stories about growing up and what they did with their mother. As we all age, these stories increase in value.
  3. Fill a journal, an album, a book with family photos and handwritten notes about the memories that mean the most to you. Share it with her.
  4. Build out a recipe book. No joke!  Recently, I visited friends who shared their family’s recipe book and what defined each recipe were the names: “Nana’s Stew” “Mum’s Sausage Rolls” and even “Bud’s Pork Chops.” Of course, I had to ask who Bud was.   This is a part of your family’s history as much as the album of photos from your personal history.
  5. Send flowers. If and when you can, send your mom flowers.  Something she would never purchase for herself.  My mother’s favorite flowers are yellow roses.  When she would come to visit us in California, she fell in love with the orchids we would pick up at the farmer’s markets.  When I can, I always try to send her an orchid.  She said it reminds her of her trips out West, and it was such an exotic flower that rarely did she see them in New England.
  6. Make a photo gift. As children, we often make gifts for Mother’s Day that involved handprints or personal photos.  Let’s go old school and make mom a gift with our photo.  What spot on her walls needs a little pick-me-up?  Limited on wall space?  How about an old photo of the two of you for her bedside table or in the kitchen nook?
  7. Spend time with her. Let her pick a day to do something she loves.  I often join my mom on adventures that I wouldn’t normally choose for myself, and yet, I find we have a ball.  It is not the thing we do together that matters, as much as the spending time together that brings it home.
  8. Throw a party. Host a brunch. Invite her closest friends, your friends, the neighbors, and spend a day honoring her in a setting she would love.
  9. Call your mother. Call her every day and any day you can.  Tell her what’s on your heart.  Tell her a story about your day. Don’t wait for Mother’s Day because Mother’s Day is every day of the year.
  10. Finally, if your mother is no longer with you, I encourage you to still share her story. Bring out the photographs.  Talk about your mother with people who remember her or tell a story about her to the people who did not know her.   It is only in sharing these stories, that we are reminded of the people who helped us to become who we are today.


Happy Mother’s Day – today and every day – from Barbara Bell Photography.


Barbara Bell Photography creates heirloom photographs to inspire families to share their memories near Chapel Hill, NC.