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  • Writer's pictureRusty Pencil

What to write in a birthday card for mum

Updated: Nov 15, 2022

School children writing a birthday card for mum. Vintage black and white photograph of a boy and a girl in school uniform.

You’ve heard of novelists having writer’s block. Now there’s greeting card writer’s block. It's when someone struggles to come up with something more interesting than happy birthday mum. It’s a common problem. In fact, it happens every hour of every day. Today millions of mothers are enjoying their birthdays, so can you imagine the inner turmoil of all those millions of offspring trying to think of what to write in their mum’s birthday card? Writer’s block happens to the best of us. But there are ways to get through it, as described in How to beat writer’s block in The New Yorker.

Admittedly, being unable to write a greeting card salutation isn’t going to lead you to down a bottle of vodka and leap off a cliff like most fragile novelist types, but the angst of being wordless can make one feel a little inadequate. After all, you could simply write happy birthday mum, and be done with it. But of course, you want to show mum you care so that she won’t forget you in her will. So where can you find inspiration?

Don’t look on the internet. It’s very boring

Let’s be honest, the internet, by and large, is a very repetitive and boring place. The web is full of recycled pre-packaged trash. It’s cut-and-paste heaven. If you search the internet for ‘What to write in a birthday card for mum’ you’ll find a plethora of very dry, very uninspiring suggestions, most of which are variations upon a theme and of no real use at all. Do these people copy each other’s websites out of sheer laziness? Are they completely without talent? Who knows? These sites offer nothing.

Examples include, ‘Dear mum, on your birthday it’s time to sit back and relax, put up your feet and let dad take care of everything!’ How unoriginal is that? A dead chimp could think of a better line. Your mum will wonder what sort of dull kid she raised and cut you from her Christmas list.

1960's happy families playing card. 1960's air hostess on runway with prop plane. Mum reading s birthday card.

There’s also, ‘Mum, I love you more than words can say. Wishing you an amazing day.’ This isn’t going to get her heart pulsating with joy. It’s very ordinary. And mums don’t want ordinary. They want lots of love and originality, preferably laced with Prosecco. And maybe some chocolate.

The problem with these suggestions is that they are so generic. They could apply to any old mum. But your mum isn’t any old mum.

Still stuck? Think of your mother

‘It’s a mackerel to catch a salmon,’ as my mother once said instead of saying it’s a miracle to catch a salmon. She also said, ‘Don’t make a mount out of a mole’ along with a few other mangles. Well, she was French, so she was forgiven for the odd malapropism and English language mash-up. But this is what made her the character that she was. So when it comes to writing something about your mum in a birthday card, try to think of something that’s really about her. It could be her silly little sayings, her idiosyncratic ticks, her funny ways that make you laugh - you know, how she uses her dentures to crimp the apple pie or the way her chain hairs glint in the early morning sunlight. Finding that small thing, that interesting morsel about your mum is the key to making her smile.

Ultimately, don’t fret. As with all mothers, she’ll be eternally grateful that you’ve made the effort, no matter how small you think it is. Whatever you write or draw or add to her birthday card, it’ll go down a treat. You might think that you haven’t done the lovely card justice, or that you could have thought of a better line to write. It doesn’t matter to her. Because to her, it’s not important that it’s perfect, but that it’s honest.

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