Moms: Small moves. Lots of love.

by | May 1, 2021


Something a little different this time: a writing assignment for you!
But hang on. I think you’ll like it.

When you’re finished, you’ll have a different kind of Mother’s Day card mapped out
(or something for another special person in your life).

I first offered this post in May 2018.

Things have … changed a bit since then.

My trail-blazing mother died last June (no … it wasn’t C-19), but this article still makes its point as I challenge you to the writing assignment I mentioned.

Since Mother’s Day in the U.S. is the second Sunday in May, this is my first year with no need for a card. But several years ago, it was a different story.

Come with me on a little adventure.

Sometimes, the strangest things remind us of our parents’ sacrifice for the family. We miss it until we are “…all growed up,” as Bruce Willis says in the movie Armageddon.

Case in point …

The Husband and I watched the M∗A∗S∗H episode where Klinger asks Charles to invest in Klinger’s next-big-thing toy ideas.

Unfortunately for both, Charles turned down the Hula Hoop® and the Frisbee® (no matter how much we yelled at the TV).

Greeting card yawnfest

Earlier that week, I’d bemoaned the fact that Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards had become … a yawnfest.

I needed a non-boring, different kind of Mother’s Day card.

After watching M∗A∗S∗H, I mused about children inventing the Frisbee long before somebody made money with it.

Part of my story wrapped around the sacrifice it took, on my mom’s part, to keep our neighborhood supplied with free ‘frisbees.’

In the eyes of the world, it was a small move on her part.

But to me? It was huge in the lots-of-love department.

Finding the tree amid the forest

After hearing my tale – which I’ll share with you in a moment – The Husband immediately pitched in with:

“There’s your different Mother’s Day card. It’s one way Barbara put the family first, even though she was a ‘working’ mom. Tell her what it meant to you.”

He was right.

I bet you have a story, too, even if it’s about a favorite aunt or uncle who stepped up when you needed a confidant.

Now we get to your assignment:

Why not write a special note to tuck inside a card?
Or create a tribute to hang on the wall?

Mom, Aunt Margie, Gramma, or Grampa
won’t mind if it’s not perfect.

They will be thrilled you put it in writing.

Here’s my account. It may help you with ideas for your own tribute.

The pariah of the neighborhood

My mom was the pariah of our neighborhood in the 1960s.

Her crimes? (Yeees, plural!)

She was (thankfully) divorced from my father, married to my stepdad (yay!), and working outside the home.

By the time Daddy came into the picture, I was four years old, and Mother had a career.

So, pretty much, our family was the ‘weird one,’ and no one could figure out why my last name was different from my parents’!

Coffee chores

My mom – an engineer brain-wise, though her boss wouldn’t admit it – had a job that came with a security clearance.

Once I understood what this meant, I knew she was doing something important.

No wonder she never talked about work!

She and the guys in her department divided the coffee ‘chores,’ but Barbara got the toughest job (IMHO).

She purchased and delivered all the supplies.

Among other inconveniences, this meant going to the grocery on her own time and buying those huge cans of coffee (plus big creamers and sugar)

High heels, coffee, and parking lots

If you’ve ever worked for the government, you know the rest.

On delivery day, she had to lug the whole kit and kaboodle across an acre of parking lot – no matter the weather – and walk another acre inside the building.

All this while wearing high heels and dress clothes.

Even with that, she remembered me

Always one to remember what it was like being a kid, my mom brought home the plastic lids from the old coffee cans.

She knew I’d soon be outside playing with my friends, and we’d sail those puppies back and forth for hours on end.

See? A small move on her part, but lots of love for me.

Note to next-generation players:
Free pseudo Frisbees don’t make it over the house.
They contentedly park on the roof. 

Those lids were twice the size of the ‘regulars,’ and we looked forward to them. We needed the endless supply because we weren’t allowed on the roof. 😎

Years later, when the official Frisbee appeared, Mother said, “If we’d had the money to manufacturer them, we’d be millionaires!”

A loving, faithful parent

My mom was always bringing fun stuff home from work.

These were items everyone else throws away but kids love.

She rescued worn-out office supplies (such as empty typewriter ribbon spools), those treasured coffee can lids, and sometimes the most coveted of all: a cocktail umbrella from someone’s drink at an office celebration.

Yep. Small moves. Lots of love.

“Why did you put up with your boss?”

Although she was underappreciated, denied timely advancement, and constantly derided by the Boss from Hell – my words, not hers – Mother stayed on the job until retirement.

After I grew up and realized how difficult it was for working women in those years, I asked her why she put up with it …

… and discovered it was all about me

She matter-of-factly told me:

“It was a good, government job. That meant a steady income and schedule, no working on weekends, and when you were out of school, I was off work.”

I was stunned.

Did she endure a bad situation all those years … for me?
As I think back, I see it.

This was a huge move and the biggest dose of love. See why I needed a different kind of Mother’s Day card?

Thank you

My mother – along with my grandmother and many other ‘working’ females in the 1960s – stuck it out and helped blaze a trail for today’s career women.

Although there are many layers I won’t explore here, the movie Hidden Figures reminds me of the sacrifice.

Barbara finally made it. It was a decades-long climb with good supervisors, in later years, who worked to right several wrongs.

They promoted my mother as quickly as possible, ensuring she retired at the same level as the Boss from Hell. Her last business card lists her as

Manager, Provisioning
Logistic Engineering Support Branch

I am proud of my trail-blazing mom to this day, and when I originally posted this article, I joined my readers in the assignment:

Write a special note to tuck inside a card
or create a tribute to hang on the wall.

And guess what? Mother still had that note when she died.

Join the Conversation

It’s your turn! Please select one of these discussion topics, or bring your own.

• Tell us about an idea for a special tribute to a loved one.

• Who in your life needs a special card the most? Why?

• Have you received a special gift made by someone you love?

Let’s all learn from each other!

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Hope to hear from you soon,


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  1. Shirley Kufeldt

    Good reminder to personalize our Mother’s Day greetings. Years ago I can recall sending two similar personal greetings to my mother-in-law. We had lived with my in-laws for 16 months when our house was under construction. No rent. My father-in-law was a carpenter who helped build the house. We lived there 31 years. I also thanked them as they watched our two children one day a week for a season.

    No one loves your kids like Mom and Grandma!
    Nice post ~ Thanks

    • Kathie York

      Thank you for sharing your wonderful story.
      I need to find a way to honor my dad, too, since HE really stuck his neck out there!
      Next year, I think I’ll do this in June. The men in these equations are often underappreciated.

  2. Norman Phelps

    Hi Kathie. Since I worked with your mother under the Boss from Hell and then became the Nice Boss after the BFH left I was aware of not only the coffee situation but other ‘stuff’ in the office. I wasn’t aware of why she put up with it, until now (tears freely flowing). My mother was a ‘stay at home’ mom. Growing up in the 50’s with three kids it was kind of required. I still remember a lot of sacrifices she made for our family. I read about a wonderful way to say thanks to parents and on my 30th birthday I sent a huge bouquet of flowers to my Mom thanking her for ME. I also sent another bouquet of flowers to my mother-in-law on my Wife’s 30th birthday thanking her for my Wife. I have a great story about my Dad but that will have to wait for another time. Thanks for a very inspirational and thought provoking article.

    • Kathie York


      SO glad you pitched in on this!

      When Mother told me the ‘why,’ there were tears here, too!


      Thanks for sharing the ideas for tributes, and the stories about your mom and mother-in-law.

      I’d appreciate a conversation about our dads, but we can jump on a phone call for that.
      (I really need to do a follow-up ‘dad post’ in June, don’t I??? I wonder if I have time ….)


      You were a nice boss!

      You and Karen were the NBs I heard the most about.

      It is such an honor to have you as one of my subscribers.

      Thanks for starting Barbara on her path to success.



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Kathie York, CSQE
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