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A Mother's Day Gift to Myself

May 9, 2009


I couldn’t tell you what possessed me to walk through the jewelry department of my town’s most expensive store on that Saturday in May.  Perhaps it was the sunshine streaming through big windows onto the glass countertops, catching a sparkle of stones in arresting, glorious colors – amethyst, Caribbean blue tourmaline, sea green.  I couldn’t help stopping, unexpectedly, at a counter spread with beautiful necklaces and bracelets.  They were not behind glass but atop the counters, spread out in velvet display boxes.  Murmuring shoppers and sales help clustered around the counters on both sides.



I soon learned that the jewelry had been brought out into the open like that for a reason.  It turns out it was the Saturday before Mother’s Day, and the store was clever enough to offer “trunk shows” of their jewelry, just in time for last-minute gift buying. 


 And sure enough, there to my left, was a father and his teenage son, looking a bit confused, with several necklaces spread before them.  To my right, two young women, discussing whether their mother would prefer the pink tourmaline dangling from a chunky gold chain, or one made of blue stones called appetites, with a small silver drop. The sales help was doting and solicitous, modeling the jewelry for the shoppers, and giving gentle suggestions.


I’ve been known to let me eyes “feast” like this, as I would in an art museum, just for the sheer visual pleasure of it.  I’ve done this in French pastry shops, admiring the meticulously crafted marzipan creations or petit fours, but with no intention to buy one.  Sometimes it’s enough to just drink up the colors, as though filling some aesthetic hunger.


That was certainly my intention on that Saturday.  I had not given much thought to the approach of Mother’s Day that year.  My three young sons, I imagined, would probably “surprise” me tomorrow with a plate of eggs scrambled nearly black from the burnt butter in the pan.  The youngest, a first grader, would likely present a card hand made in school.  The oldest would have bicycled to CVS for a card that his brother would piggyback on at the last minute.


That would be more than enough for me.  I had my three children.  We had come so far through this impossible divorce, and were now in our new home in a new town.  With so many dark days behind me, there was little, at that moment, that I could want.  Certainly not jewelry.


But I was mesmerized by a necklace made of gold and silver squares, each with a tiny white sapphire at its center, that the saleswoman was modeling on her long, graceful neck for the man and his son. The jewelry designer himself, Robin Rotenier was there, cooing in a French accent to urge on the sale.  Unsolicited, I spoke up, to offer the man and his son my friendly advice that the necklace was an absolute stunner.  Not too dressy, not too plain, it would make the perfect Mother’s Day gift. 



Then something occurred to me.  Wait a minute, I thought.  I’m a mother.  I’m a single mother at that.  A single mother of  three young boys. 

And then:


Don’t I deserve a Mother’s Day present too?


The logic was irrefutable. 


 The next thing I knew, I was trying it on.  It cost a small fortune, of course, more than I had ever spent for an item of clothing, let alone a necklace.  I would have to go into my savings account.  I tried it on next, and stepped aside to a larger mirror.


Could I really do this?  Until now, buying jewelry was something that had only

I wear my Mother's Day Robin Rotenier necklace in the photo on my book cover.  Here it is.

I wear my Mother's Day Robin Rotenier necklace in the photo on my book cover. Here it is.




happened in collaboration, such as when I had examined engagement ring stones with my future husband and parents-in-law at their dining room table many years ago, or after assuring my ex-husband that a significant jewelry gift was required at the birth of each child.  But today, with sunlight streaming into those windows, with the handsome French designer, Robin Rotenier, noting that the necklace looked perfect on me – this was different.  There was something positively exhilarating in the realization that this decision could be mine and mine alone.   


The logic was irrefutable.  I was absolutely, unshakably certain, that no one deserved a beautiful Mother’s Day gift as much as I did that year.


So I bought the necklace.  Today that necklace is one of the favorite pieces of jewelry I own, more important than anything ever given to me. It reminds me of my sons, and the joy that they are in my life.  It signals my own recognition of how well I managed, after the divorce, to mother them in a way I can be proud of.  It would always come to symbolize the pride I had in myself on on that Mother’s Day. 



On this Saturday before Mother’s Day, I urge any single mother to do a little shopping for something beautiful today.  No one deserves it as much as you do.  

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