Sunday, May 10.
Don’t lie; you didn’t know when it was.
(I just looked it up… I didn’t know either.)
This post might seem like the blogosphere’s most conspicuous hint-hint to husband, but let me assure Mr. P that all two Mother’s Days I’ve had have been wonderful and you’re doing a great job and I love you.
The thing is, for families with little children, the role of giving mom a good Mother’s Day falls on dad. And let’s face it, with birthdays and the holidays, the last thing dad needs is one more day to harvest anxiety over whether or not his wife is feeling the love. Now, that sounds excruciatingly negative, but I’m simply trying to say this: for those of you dads who find Mother’s Day daunting, let me inspire you with some gift ideas (that won’t break the bank–some are even free).
Ideally any gift at all on any holiday would be received with gratitude. It is important to remember, though, that each “gift giving” occasion (be it Christmas, a wedding, birthdays) tends to have a message that the gift is to communicate and a cultural idea of how indulgent the gifts are to be (Christmas tends to be when you give and receive the biggest gifts). Here’s where Mother’s Day falls on the scale: the message the gift sends is “thank you for being mom,” which often means the gift has something to do with mom’s role in the family (but not too directly, don’t you go and get her gloves for doing more dishes). The indulgent factor: fairly low, meaning we don’t usually spend a lot on these gifts (new car for Mother’s Day, anyone?). The beauty of these two facts is that their marriage results in an opportunity to give an extremely thoughtful gift. So without further ado:
1. A Letter
Not a card. This is a time when you don’t want to let someone else say it for you. Take some time and sit down to write a real live letter. Tell her thank you for being the mother of your children. Tell her what she does well. And above all tell her that her sacrifices don’t go unnoticed. One of the biggest challenges of motherhood today is that motherhood itself is so low on the totem pole of respect in our country. Also take this time to reassure her. Motherhood also often comes with much misplaced guilt. If she stays at home, it’s tempting to feel less than for not having a career. If she works full time, she can fight feeling like she doesn’t see her kids enough. This is a great place to soothe these worries. Don’t worry about the eloquence of your writing. I promise she won’t care about spelling, grammar, or cheese-factor.
Nice makeup is one of those things I miss right now. Heck, regular showers are one of those things I miss right now. With the unpredictability and the high-level of supervision required for young children, it is difficult to take care of yourself, no less get dolled up. Generally speaking, makeup is something you don’t buy for someone else due to specific and personal tastes, but a wisely chosen lipstick not only pampers your wife, but also says, “I think you’re sexy,” which is what every woman wants to hear postpartum (ie the least sexy time of every mom’s life… second only to the seventh grade). The reason lipstick is ok and, say, concealer is not is because it’s great to say, “I was thinking about your lips.” It’s not great to say, “I was thinking about your under eye circles.” If you can swing $8 and a trip to the drugstore, grab Revlon’s Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain (I recommend the “Romantic” shade). If you want something a little nicer, hit up a MAC makeup counter, whip out a picture of your wife and ask the makeup artist to choose a shade (for about $16).
3. Photo Album
Even if you get a minimal insert-photo-here album, gathering photos of your family is a powerful way to say, “wow, we really have something beautiful” and “thanks for making this happen with me.” Seeing a collection of photos of her journey through motherhood so far is about as gratifying as it gets. Want to make it extra classy? Print the especially good shots in black and white (and in 5×7 or 8×10).
4. Quality Her-Time Basket
The gift of solitude sounds absurd to all except maybe the mom of little ones. For the woman who can’t poop without an audience, give the gift of alone time. I recommend a basket or gift bag filled with the ingredients to her ideal recharge time. It may look something like this: a face mask (nügg makes the best ones), a smelly candle, a bottle of wine (or margarita mix or her favorite ice cream), and a good book (for suggestions: Top 32 Fictions or my Pinterest).
5. Trip to the Hair Salon
With little hands-free time to style hair, it’s usually somewhere between 1 week and 2 months postpartum that mama is ready to chop her hair off. While you may not want to sponsor a Britney-level head shaving, a nice haircut and blowout (men, this is when a highly trained professional makes your hair look like a celebrity’s armed only with a brush and hair dryer) is a fun reminder that while she is a mom, she is still also a woman. This also may be a nice time for her to cut her hair to a length baby can’t grab while nursing. Good to know: sponsoring a nice haircut can be on the costly side ($40-$80 is normal) and will require dad to also offer childcare for an hour or two.
Flowers are a classic for a reason. They are beautiful and a fun reminder of your love every time she passes the bouquet on the table (and they make the house look extra lovely). Instead of grabbing the first bouquet you see, try to find something that reminds you of her somehow and let her know. It is thrilling to receive an unusual arrangement (is that eucalyptus??), especially when it equates to her uniqueness. A plus side of Mother’s Day being in May is that many flowers are still in bloom, so picking your own bouquet is a super sweet option.
Hope this is helpful, brothers.