She got you out of the pool when your teeth started chattering, and rubbed you down and wrapped you in a fluffy towel. She smoothed smelly ointment on your chest, and tucked you in when you had a cold. She washed your hands and put antiseptic lotion on the scraped finger. She combed your hair, and made you pretty for your first birthday party.
Mother is the one who cleaned you up, patted the hurts and made you feel good. Time to reciprocate.
This Mother's Day, a touching gesture could be a hug and a gift certificate for a day of pampering. That hug is the most important element, but the patting and beautifying by a team of professionals would put some power behind it.
Most area salons are prepared to offer a variety of gift packages for beauty services -- from a head-to-toe workup by haircutters, masseuses, make-up analysts, manicurists, pedicurists and aromatherapists, to a simple certificate for a haircut. The gift could be as modest as a $16 manicure or $250 for the whole works.
A day of beauty at Lola Inc. in Mount Washington would include a color consultation, hair styling, manicure, pedicure, champagne lunch, massage and make-up application. It could also include such extras as a new hair color or a body wrap.
"It's the greatest gift to get," says owner Lola Jones. "All women love to be pampered but may feel guilty about indulging themselves.
"We try to work it out so that all the services run smoothly and there is the sense of constant attention and no waiting. We can tailor the day to specific requests. If a day of beauty for mother is intended to end with a nice dinner, we schedule a facial first and finish the day with light makeup. The massage will be different, too. A sport massage will invigorate and put her in shape for a night on the town. A relaxing massage at the end of the day can leave her drowsy and ready for a nap -- a great treat for the busy, young career mother who works under a lot of stress."
A day of beauty is considered a necessity rather than a luxury by Jacqueline Kami, who is the aesthetician at the Cut Above on Light Street. "Do not consider it a treat, but consider it a treatment as fundamental to well-being as it is perceived by European women. However, a gift of a facial and other beauty services is a wonderful way to introduce a woman to that idea," she said.
"I can't think of any gift more beautiful -- other than flowers -- to present to a mother. They give so much of themselves that they often overlook their own looks."
For women whose idea of a beauty routine is a splash with soap and water and a dab of moisturizer, a facial could be near Nirvana.
"A European facial concentrates more on massage and manipulation which stimulates the circulation and helps the skin to absorb the nourishing emollients," Ms. Kami explains. "We determine the skin type and work from there. First there is the cleansing, which is done with natural products. Then we exfoliate with a gentle massage, using a product that sloughs off dead cells on the top skin layers to reveal clearer skin."
This is done in preparation for a light mist and experienced fingers that massage, stroke and smooth on scented potions. The skin softens and makes possible the cleansing of any clogged pores in the chin and nose area.
"It gives a feeling of luxury, well-being. For older skins we use a lighter, more gentle touch but all skins can benefit. Women who have experienced a professional facial tend to return. Times have changed, and women are informed about products and treatments and they know what works."
It may take some time to convince busy mothers to designate time and money for a regular salon routine, but some quick steps to glamour will certainly get her interested. "Nothing cheers a woman more than a good new hairdo and fresh colors," says Gloria Brennan of the salon that bears her name in Pikesville.
"Older mothers understand the pleasure a day at a salon can offer. They are established and have a certain amount of time and financial security. But they see their daughters who are pursuing a career and raising a family and are stretched for time and money. I have older clients who treat their daughters on Mother's Day. They may schedule together to have an entire day to talk and catch up. And one of the favorite services is hair and makeup.
"A slightly shorter cut can give the features, as well as the spirits, a lift," says Ms. Brennan. "Add to that some new eye and lip colors and mother and daughter can feel like girls again."
It's also possible to combine giggles along with glamour on a day out with mother. Cindy Stern at Elegant Images photo studio in Towson Town Center says a studio photo makes great memories. "We get a lot of women who come in with a gift certificate. The younger ones may want us to pull out all the stops. We can do three different looks from our collection of feather boas, fabric drapes, hats, flowers and scarves. When our make-up and hair stylists finish, a woman can be transformed."
How about older moms? The idea of grandmother draped in a red feather boa may be somewhat disconcerting. "We tailor the photo to individual style. We may not put grandmother in a black biker jacket. We have one in silver to enhance her silver hair."
A certificate and card may look pretty slim on Sunday. Why not present it with some new or favorite perfume? Perhaps a pretty scarf or hair ornament.
If mother is loyal to a beauty professional, consider a certificate for extra services. If she's not committed call around the salons, and buy her some beautiful times.
A dab of perfume gives a woman an instant aura of luxury. That's why Mother's Day is a high cycle in the perfume industry. Nothing is too good for mom.
There's a pre-understood concept of quality and value in a perfume. The scent may vary but the production is complex and essential ingredients are costly," says Annette Greene, executive director of the Fragrance Foundation, the non-profit teaching arm of the industry.
"The difference today is that there are lot of fragrance products which include treatment elements -- the body smoothers, oils, body and hand lotions and bath products. The beauty of it is that these products deliver a lot of fragrance for the money. The fragrance in an oil-base lotion lasts longer and costs a fraction of the price of alcohol-based perfume."
But choosing something for mother can leave a shopper reeling in the richness and variety of the perfume department.
There are more than 800 fragrances on the market. If mother doesn't have a stated preference, perhaps going for a gift with purchase can narrow the decision.
For example, the Hecht's Mother's Day catalog features a pretty floral umbrella with purchase of Oscar de la Renta fragrance. A selection from Design by Paul Sebastian includes the bonus of a porcelain clown.
Whatever the final choice, the memory of the giver will linger with mother for some time.