Usually I'm opened minded to either wheel guns or semi autos, but in this case I'm going to really lean towards a 38 wheel gun. There are still a lot of good used Smith Model 10's, 15's and other similar k frames floating around out there that were once used in LE that are affordable. My wife's attitude towards shooting is similar. She doesn't wake up looking to go to the range, but she does understand the need to be armed at home particularly when she was alone with babies or by herself. Now when her babies are at home they are very capable of doing the protecting. They were punching paper and sending cans flying with everything from 38's to 40 cals very accurately and with good defensive skills by the time they were in their early teens. Now they're in their late teens and giving me a run for my money every time we do some shooting together. I wish I could buy those little white woousy stick figures that the yuppies put on their SUV's, except mine would depict my wife wearing a skirt, and all of us holding stick figures guns, maybe a dog the with a game bird in its mouth, and a downed deer at everyone's feet. Wouldn't that be cute? Good luck with setting your mom up. I really think a 38 wheel gun is the way to go.