This post is sponsored by merci Chocolates, a thoughtful collection of fine, European chocolates.
I was the first of my friends to have kids. I've been blessed to develop an incredibly large and supportive group of fellow moms since then, but I'll never forget those isolating initial weeks. It was me, a baby, and absolutely NO CLUE what I was doing. I ended up leaning on two women in particular during those early days of motherhood when I needed a gut check, a hand, or just an ear to listen when the little guy refused to sleep at 3am. Nate's mom and grandma (Oma and Nana) were the original members of my mom tribe, and I try to find ways to thank them every year around Mother's Day.
One of the biggest lessons I learned from these two amazing women was practicality. Nate comes from a blue-collar family, and I learned early on the importance of coming together and spending quality time with them. They take a no-nonsense approach to most of life's issues and their homes have a comfortable, straightforward, farm-like functionality which is welcoming to all. I've modeled my own parenthood tactics after their down-to-earth simplicity, and the minimalist mindset has given me a sense of freedom and flexibility.
With such busy lives, it can be easy to overlook each other. It’s important to say “thanks” for everything that our mom tribe has done for us, so I decided to throw together a cozy afternoon to do just that. To express my gratitude for being there on the days when I had no idea what I was doing and needed some words of encouragement.
When it came time to give our son his first bath, and I was scared out of my mind, it was Oma who was there to gently lift the water up with a cup and rub around my newborn baby’s precious little ears and elbows and knees. She was there and stepped up in a moment that could have been utterly isolating and bewildering to me.
And I can’t forget about Nana! The number of times she’s called just to tell me she was thinking of me with no reason and no agenda. She’s always been there in the times when I’ve needed a supportive chat. Those are the types of things that a mom tribe does. Recently, I stayed over at Nana’s house when I was attending a conference near where she lives. She cooked dinner for me late each evening, waiting patiently until all of my meetings were over so we could eat together. Reading the stress on my face, she poured me a glass of wine and set a bowl of ice cream in from of me and said the encouraging words I needed to hear when I was worried about speaking in public. She gave me perspective so I could focus on what really mattered at that time.
That’s what every mom needs to get through the ups and downs of motherhood. A core group of people to turn to for emotional and practical support. In turn, women who provide kind words and that level of support need to hear a simple “thank you” so that they know what a huge difference they’re making.
To me that’s what Mother’s Day is all about: showing love and gratitude to the women who have made a real difference in my life as a mother. However, it can be really hard to find the perfect gift for someone who isn’t a big gift-giver or receiver. What do you give to someone who doesn't need anything? Anytime I try to ask Nana what she wants, she just shrugs, “Oh honey, your company is the best gift!”
I mean, I know that I'm awesome. But that's a bit of a stretch!
For this Mother's Day, I tapped into two things that I knew would be special for Nana and Oma: delicious food and quality time. Everyone in this family values a tasty treat and spending time with one another. Who doesn't!? This year, I decided to host a special chocolate-and-jokes afternoon to say thank you for all they have done for me and my family.
It seems that people don't arrange a nice, casual get-togethers anymore! The stress of planning the perfect party or finding the most Pinterest-worthy apps and activities can quickly become overwhelming. I know I can get so wound up in the whole thing that I opt out of doing it before I can even get started. I've talked to numerous pals who have this problem, so when it's my turn to host an event I keep things super low-key. I simply stocked my fridge with a ton of heat-and-eat pre-made snacks like mini quiches, fruit and salami plates. Coffee and drinks are always on-hand along with merci Chocolates.
Chocolate is great when eaten with your mom tribe, but we ALL know that it's even better when eaten on the couch while binge-watching your favorite reality TV show. That's why I made sure to have a few boxes of merci Chocolates as take-away gifts, so everyone could treat themselves later.
With a name that literally means “thank you” it seemed like the perfect fit for gift-giving on this occasion. These fine chocolates include eight individually wrapped flavors in the box, so there's something for everyone from the classic Milk Chocolate lover to the Coffee and Cream fanatic to the palate that prefers Dark Mousse or Marzipan. The brand was born in Germany in 1965 and is now Europe's most recognized gift giving chocolate, celebrated as a token of appreciation in more than 100 countries from Poland to Singapore, Sweden and Slovenia. It's now sold in grocery stores nationwide across the US for just $5-7. I picked ours up at Target!
As for the jokes, I found most of those on Pinterest and picked up a few cheesy ones that I've seen floating around Facebook to add a few laughs to our afternoon.
I plopped them into a PDF file that you can download and print out to host your own mom tribe party. Just click the image above, cut them along the lines and stuff them into a cup or vase for people to pick at random or read aloud. They'd also be fun to keep on-hand, or secretly stash them on your cubicle-mate's desk or in a neighbor's mailbox. I used to have an office pal who would print out silly jokes for me (particularly when we were having a rough day with the boss) and it always put a smile on my face.
The chocolate was obviously a huge hit around here, and the jokes were as well. I was so glad that I could put a smile on Nana and Oma's faces. I think we may even make this an annual tradition!
How do you celebrate your mom tribe?