What I Hear When You Say You Want Nothing for Mother’s Day

On Mother’s Day it’s likely that I’ll, again, disappoint my wife.

I’m a good dad, but a realist and have developed an affinity for bad gift-giving of late.

Although I realize that I could never buy anything that would adequately convey my gratitude for all that my wife has given to me, alas, I’ll try.

I used to be a good gift-giver – able to decipher my wife’s often cryptic, subtle requests.

That was then.

The ability to decode the language of Mother’s Day gifting has left me – just like the ability to stay up past 11 p.m. or to run a sub 10-minute mile.

When I hear, “Honey, don’t get me anything.  I mean it!”, I process something completely different.

My brain, in fact, provides me five translations to that ambiguous, coy response:

Translation #1: “You stink at gift-giving, so don’t even try.”

Yep, my wife has finally conceded after years of disappointment.  I don’t wear that as a badge of honor, though, so I’ll be setting out to prove her wrong.

The only problem is, walking endless circles at the local mall brings me face-to-face with the very reality that I’m working to disprove.

Translation #2: “I want you to surprise me.”

Surprising the person that you share your life with is difficult to say the least.  I guess that may be why doing so would mean so much.

But, my wife and I share everything.  We’re together more than we are apart – making the mission to surprise her a job fit only for James Bond.

My attempt at a surprise is often foiled by my kids spilling the beans, the babysitter I’ve set up unknowingly texting my wife about the plans or by my feeble attempt at hiding the sub-par gift.

Translation #3: “Don’t try to give me another pamphlet of homemade “chore” coupons!”

Let’s face it – giving handwritten coupons to your wife for household chores is both tired and unimpressive.  After all, these coupons are really an advanced payment on a task that we should be doing anyway.

Not only do the “clean the bathroom” coupons yield themselves useless when ultimately lost in the “junk drawer”, they should be an insult to any dad that claims to do their share.

Translation #4: “If I have to tell you, you haven’t been paying attention.”

My wife constantly drops hints about potential gifts.

I listen, I swear – execution is my problem.

Leading up the Christmas, in fact, I took notes when my wife leafed through the Sunday ads and mentioned a few items.  Pinned on a board in my office are three written potential gifts: Wicked tickets, Alex and Ani bracelets and triathlon shorts.

Despite having written these down, I went 0-for-3, instead, resorting to the standard stocking items like a bottle of wine and comfy pajamas.

My wife thanked me for the items, but, if I’m honest, they are not exactly mezzanine seats to the Wizard of Oz take-off show that we’ve longed to see together for nearly ten years.

Translation #5: “No, I really want nothing – like absolutely nothing.”

With 5 kids saying “Mom!” thousands of times per day, maybe nothing is exactly what my wife wants.

I mean absolutely NOTHING – no running around, no worrying, no nap schedules to manage, no heaping laundry pile, no divvying up the activity duties for the week, no finding soccer cleats, no midnight “I’m scared” awakenings.

Hell, I wouldn’t blame her if the best gift of all would be a quiet spot on a desolate beach with a book and a chair.

No matter my interpretation, though, I’ll buy a lackluster gift for Mother’s Day.  And, again, I’ll feel terrible on Sunday when we should be celebrating the woman that I adore.

On Mother’s Day morning, my kids will pile into bed with their handmade cards and collect their sweet, motherly kisses on the forehead.  I’ll shrug apologetically while handing my wife a gift that I know will disappoint.

The only hope I have is that my pursuit of another failure has some value.

The truth is, just as no gift is worthy of what she has given to our family, neither am I.

Without Mom, there is no Dad.  And, my eternal gratitude for that fact is a gift without equal.

My wife deserves everything for Mother’s Day.

It’s me, indeed, that needs nothing more.


One Comment

  1. Chris Werner

    Just had a conversation about Mother’s Day with 4 fellow Grandmas, ages 60-86. A little different perspective. They were lamenting that at an older age, the day becomes about sons’ wives and not their moms… same as Father’s Day becoming about husbands of daughters, not their dads. I think if everyone would make the days about spending time with or making the honoree something, the pressure might calm and any disappointed feelings might fade. Grown kids honor your mother, young kids honor your mother. Those loving hugs and homemade cards and letters written that say I love you… those are still treasures at an old age… perhaps even more treasured. ❤️ Give the gift of time, of love, of fun… that should always be successful.

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