The Gift of Time


By Winnie Yu for Completely You

When I was a kid, I wanted my mother to love perfume, makeup or jewelry like other moms did. But my mom had been a tomboy in China, a talented softball player who rode bikes without brakes and preferred roller skates and tag to dolls and dress-up.

I was at a loss as to what to give my mom on Mother’s Day or any other event that warranted a gift. Scribbled artwork could only go so far after a certain age. She liked reading but said it was too hard for her to read English, her second language. And while she liked sweaters, I certainly couldn’t afford them on a babysitter’s wages.

It didn’t get any easier as she got older. Oh, sure, I was better able to afford the sweaters and fleece jackets she came to like. But how many does a woman really need? And she certainly didn’t want any more tchotchkes, candies or souvenir magnets.

Finding her the right gift became a perennial challenge.

When it came right down to it, turns out what she really wanted from me was my time -- the one thing that is so hard for a busy mom to spare. But my mom was getting on in years, and if it was time she wanted, then I would do my best to give it to her.

And so one Christmas, I bought a cheap calendar from the dollar store, etched in a lunch date on the first Wednesday of every month and gave it to her. It was my way of guaranteeing that we’d see each other at least once a month, and that on that day, the treat would be all mine.

My mother loved the gift, and so it became an annual present. One year, I gave her a two-year calendar. Another year, I gave her a gift certificate. The presentation didn’t matter. It was the guaranteed time that counted.

Giving your most precious commodity isn’t easy. But her joy in seeing me -- she bestows me with hugs and small gifts at almost every visit -- is well worth it. It’s a gift that keeps on giving back.

What are you getting Mom for Mother’s Day this year? Here’s a healthy gift suggestion from my sponsor

Winnie Yu

is Completely You’s mom blogger. She has two daughters (Samantha, 14, and Annie, 12) and is the author of seven books, including New Mother’s Guide to Breastfeeding and What to Eat for What Ails You. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Woman’s Day, AARP Bulletin, Prevention and

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