Parenting

Should a husband buy his wife a gift on Mother’s Day?

Ian breaks down the pros and cons to buying your wife a Mother's Day gift.

Photo by Moncherie/iStockphoto.com

Holidays and special occasions often have a way of creating the opposite effect of their designed intention. Instead of celebrating love and affection, they can be breaking points in a relationship.

If you want to know what your significant other really thinks of you, a Valentine’s Day mishap or a forgotten anniversary can give an answer pretty quickly.

Which brings us to Mother’s Day weekend, which would have totally snuck up on me — if not for the Blackberry reminder I programmed in there last year. There is a legitimate debate as to whether or not a husband is obligated to buy his wife a gift on Mother’s Day. So in this week’s blog, I’ve broken down the pros and cons for fathers everywhere, when it comes to buying your wife a Mother’s Day gift.

Reasons NOT to buy your wife a Mother’s Day gift:
1. She’s not your mother
For 364 days of the year, your wife will say “I am NOT your mother.” Should you really be sending mixed messages by purchasing her a Mother’s Day gift?

2. It’s up to your kids
This day is designed for children to celebrate the influence of the mom in their life. As a husband, maybe your biggest duty is to help coordinate the kids’ efforts to make a Mother’s Day craft or card. If your kids are really small and don’t have the chance to go shopping by themselves, it’s our job to take them to the store to buy something for mom. (But soak in this moment because it’s probably the only time when your child will want to be seen with you inside a mall.)

3. Gestures mean more than gifts
Instead of just buying your wife a piece of jewellery or a new shirt, she would probably appreciate the gestures that come along with Mother’s Day. Serving her breakfast in bed is always a hit — just make sure you supervised the kids making the pancakes, because there’s a good chance a Band-Aid got into the mix along with those blueberries. And your wife would probably be thrilled if she could pick the menu for the rest of the day — which means you should mentally prepare yourself for a quiche lunch. But by doing little things like this, it eliminates the need to purchase a gift from Banana Republic that will likely just be returned for store credit anyway.

4. You have other days to celebrate your wife
If Mother’s Day was the only day of the year to celebrate your wife, I could see the need for purchasing a gift on this day. But you’ve also got Valentine’s Day and her birthday to shower her with romantic and thoughtful gifts. And your anniversary is a great time to show your appreciation for your wife’s role in your life. Maybe Mother’s Day should just be for your own mother, because quite frankly, she probably gets lost in the shuffle too often.

Moms who are reading this week’s blog probably have their blood boiling at this point, since I’ve just given husbands four pretty good excuses not to buy their wives a Mother’s Day gift.

So in the interest of fairness, here are the reasons why you SHOULD buy your wife a Mother’s Day gift:
1. What if the kid’s homemade gift is crappy?

Every mother loves the idea of receiving a homemade gift from their child — something that expresses equal amounts of creativity and love. These are the items that get locked away in a memory box only to be pulled out 10 years down the road, when your teenage daughter is driving you crazy and you wonder why you had kids in the first place. But as cute as these gifts can be, a mom is often left holding a paper plate filled with dried pasta and clumpy glue. And as she looks down at her smiling toddler, the child exclaims, “That’s a picture of you Mommy!” This can leave a mom with a sudden drop in self-esteem, as she suddenly realizes her child views her as a macaroni monster. And this is where you can swoop in as the hero, producing a nice gift to save the day. And it relegates the strange kiddie craft to a nice conversation piece — instead of being the main gift she received for Mother’s Day.

2. You watched her give birth
In the previous section, I stated that your wife isn’t your mom and therefore you shouldn’t be obligated to buy her a Mother’s Day gift. But chances are you were in the delivery room with your wife and watched her give birth to your kids. And at the moment when your baby’s head was crowning and you realized how much pain she was in, would you really want to be the guy who says, “Yeah, but you’re not my mother.” She went through a lot more than you did to bring kids into this relationship and the least you could do is buy her a Starbucks gift card.

3. She will be talking with her friends
Maybe you didn’t know this, but it turns out that women really like to talk to their friends. (Especially when one of them has a Starbucks gift card.) And they really enjoy talking to each other about their husbands. So you know that will be on the agenda at their first meeting after Mother’s Day: What did your husband get for you? And in this situation, you don’t want to be the only guy on the street who didn’t buy something for his wife on Mother’s Day. You’ll be wearing that scarlet letter all summer long when you’re mowing the lawn and other neighbourhood moms whisper and point.

4. Father’s Day is around the corner
Here’s the beauty of Mother’s Day falling before Father’s Day on the calendar: Dads get to set the tone. If you ignore Mother’s Day, then you can kiss that new putter goodbye next month when it’s your turn to receive a gift. But if you go big for Mother’s Day — then you’re setting the bar very high for Father’s Day in a few weeks. You can paint your wife into a corner and force her to buy you a really nice gift, if you do that for her on Mother’s Day. She’ll have no choice but to reciprocate. Shaming and forcing your spouse into buying a gift — isn’t that what special occasions are really all about?