Giving My Wife a Mother's Day Gift Means More to Me Than It Does to Her

dad mother's day gift“What are you getting your wife for Mother’s Day?”

“Nothing. She’s not my mom. I’m getting my mom a Mother’s Day present. Wait ... do you get your wife a Mother’s Day present?”


This is part of a real conversation that occurred between my buddy and myself the other day. He's the one who doesn’t get his wife a present for Mother’s Day.

First off, let me just say that I’m no saint.

I didn’t even know that not getting your wife a Mother’s Day present was an option, or I may have gone that direction. I’m actually much better at stressing out about gift buying than I am at the actual buying of gifts. It never occurred to me I could just not get her one because she’s not my mom.

The Mother’s Day present had always been a forgone conclusion. It would go like this: A few months before Mother’s Day I would think of something to get my wife. Then, a few weeks later, I would decide that wasn’t a good idea. After changing my mind about the first idea, I would promise myself that I would think of another idea as the day got closer. Then, in what felt like a few seconds later, I would look at the calendar, and by some cruel miracle of time bending, Mother’s Day would be tomorrow. I would dash out the door and spend the rest of my Saturday frantically trying to find something amazing for my wife.

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Now my buddy was telling me that I may not have needed to do that all along! I have to admit, my gut reaction was to be intrigued. All I had to do was figure out a way to present the no present idea to my wife. I decided that the direct, “blame my friend” approach was best.

“Hey Stevie, Friend X doesn’t get his wife a Mother’s Day present because his wife isn’t his mom. What do you think about that? Would that make you mad?”

“Fine with me. I mean, presents are nice but I wouldn’t get bent out of shape if you didn’t get me anything. Last year you got me a bag of concrete. I appreciated it, but I appreciated spending the day together more.”

So there we go. I had permission to forgo gift buying. And, despite whatever tone you read that quote from my wife in, I assure you that it was sincere and not one of those “I am saying one thing, but hinting at another thing that is actually the opposite of the thing I am saying” things. I’m not saying she doesn’t do that, but she wasn’t this time. She either really didn’t care, or the bag of concrete incident had lowered her expectations enough that I could literally give her air now and she would care not one bit.

And yet … I still didn’t feel quite right. I had my out, but the thought of not giving her a gift on Mother’s Day just felt a little wrong. I mean, sure, she would be fine with it, but would I?

I started to wonder if the giving of the gift meant as much to me as receiving it did to her. Or maybe I just needed more people on the “no-gift” side of the fence to make me feel better. I asked some of my friends if any of them forwent gift giving on Mother’s Day. Their answers fell into any of three categories:

  1. Nope. She’s not my mom.
  2. Yes.
  3. I buy her gifts on behalf of the kids.

But the guys who didn’t buy gifts had standing agreements with their wives, so it wasn’t like the mothers of their children were sitting around waiting for gifts that would never come. For instance Neal Call, blogger at Raised by my Daughter, said that he doesn’t buy a gift for his wife but he “tries to do something extra special for her, whether it's cooking her favorite meal or committing to change some behavior that drives her crazy.”

That makes sense. A gift doesn’t need to be something you buy. It can be an act.

A few things the guys on the side of gift buying said stood out to me too. My buddy, Larry Bernstein, writer of Me Myself and Kids, said “Definitely. She's the mother of our children. It's a day to honor mothers. Other than my own, what mother is more important in my life? It's another way to show I appreciate all she does for our children and our family.”

Jayson Mayfield, who writes The Hinterland Princes said, “I do, on behalf of my two little boys, because I want them to grow up being aware of and celebrating the things that their mother does for them.”

I agree with them. 

My wife put in the heavy lifting when it came to the creation of our two children, and she hasn’t stopped being awesome since. And sure, I should show her how grateful I am every day, but I don’t. I get tired. I get complacent. We both do.

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Mother’s Day serves as a nice reminder to me to say thank you, and I want my kids to see me do it.

Of course, that is what I have decided is best for me. For those who are on the no-gift side, I don’t think you’re bad dudes. It’s far more important that you are on the page with your wife, than on the same page as me.

But while I will also fill the day with kind actions and word, I’m still going to get my wife a gift too. I want to hand her something. I want her to know that I went out in search of it.

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It may not be the perfect gift, but I will imbue it with my love and it will represent how much I appreciate her, and then she will put it in the office next to the bag of concrete from last year and we will go on a picnic.

What would do you expect from your partner on Mother's Day? 


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About the Author: John Kinnear writes the popular parenting blog, Ask Your Dad. He has been featured on The Huffington Post, Lifetime Moms, The Good Men Project, and his mom’s refrigerator.  You can also find him trying to be funny on Facebook and Twitter.

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