Last Mother’s Day was picturesque.
The Saturday prior I collected pricey cheeses, artisan cured meat, corked Bavarian beer, pitted olives and other treats from our neighborhood delicatessen and provisions shop and spent the better part of the afternoon preparing a picnic. By the time I threaded a single flower pedal into an empty coke bottle and placed it beside a creme-filled pastry, I felt like a good husband.
That feeling faded about an hour in. The problem was our son, who was 15 months at the time, and more golden retriever than toddler. He loves his mom, but the tyke hadn’t quite intellectualized the purpose of Mother’s Day, and spent his Sunday afternoon running around Prospect Park like a wind-up toy. We barely nibbled on our sandwiches, and all but wasted the beer, trying to get him to sit still for just one freaking minute. When we finally admitted defeat and packed up, I couldn’t help but acknowledge that I should have used the money I spent more effectively.
Mother’s Day is a particularly odd holiday. The gift giver generally has a decent amount of latitude when it comes to birthdays, Christmas/Hanukkah and anniversaries — you’re free to buy pretty much anything you think the receiver might enjoy. Mother’s Day gift-giving feels different, almost as if the present has to, in some way, include the family, or embody a family affect. Hence picnics or hand-made gifts or breakfast in bed. Our culture doesn’t seem to allow moms to get something they actually want on the second Sunday in May.
My wife and I joke that she is the CEO of our household. We both work full time, and thankfully she earns more than I do, but we’ve taken on different roles in domesticity. She is constantly researching and implementing new behavioral practices to make our son’s terrible twos less terrible. She plans the doctor appointments, makes sure he’s eating right and brushing his teeth. She knows to figure out when he should brush his teeth. She informs me when it’s time for our kid to potty-train, or transition to a bed. She crafts our family policies, and I do my best to execute them.
So another picnic wouldn’t exactly be on the top of her wish list. Neither would a day-trip to the beach or any other family-centric event, really. While my wife loves us unconditionally, she has already vowed to spend a lifetime with me and any children that we may bear. It seems a little strange, then, to get her anything in the vicinity of more family time.
Therefore, my wife will spend a long weekend in Miami, where it will be sunny and 85 degrees, with a lifelong friend. While a plane ticket and a hotel room will cost more than a picnic, so be it. She’ll be happier.
Celebrate your kid’s mother this year by giving her a time machine – that is, a return to a life before diapers, sleepless nights, and the pressure to always be thinking of everything at once.