Mother's DayI should have known better. I take responsibility for changing a smart, foolproof plan that worked beautifully for five straight Mother’s Days. Gift giving is not my husband’s strong suit. He’s a lovely, loving man, but “clueless” is too kind a word to describe his gift-giving abilities (I tell myself “passive-aggressive gift giver” is a more accurate label, but, hey, who am I to judge?). The first two years of his Mother’s Day gifting were head-scratching at best.

Here’s a rundown:

Mother’s Day #1: my two sisters bought me a gorgeous necklace from a hip Chicago boutique to remind me of my stylish, pre-baby self and celebrate my being a new, hot mama (that I was never stylish nor hot didn’t bother me. It’s the wonderful thought that counts, right?). My husband bought me a Winnie the Pooh coffee mug and matching stuffed creature. I focused on the fabulous necklace and ignored my husband’s lack of sense (or death wish). Instead of resenting my husband, I gifted myself a massage. Genius!

Mother’s Day #2: my sisters were over their generous ways, so my husband’s gift took center stage. He came home from a business trip with a long, thin brown box tied with a bright pink ribbon (think Dick Van Dyke show glam) and a matching proud smile on his face. How romantic! My dashing husband waltzing back home with a cool, retro flower presentation just in time for Mother’s Day – what could be better?

I nearly spit pancakes through my nose when I opened the box to find an intricate, expensive train set that I never knew I wanted. And still don’t. My daughters love the train. I can’t look at it without a smidge of resentment.

Mother’s Day #2 wizened me up. I described the perfect Mother’s Day gift – a gift certificate for a massage at my favorite local spa. I expressed how thrilled I would be to receive one every year ad infinitum. Done deal, I thought. And it was. For the next five years, my husband generously followed my suggestion and I lovingly received his thoughtfulness. And we all lived happily ever after.

Until last year. When I changed the plan.

Because my birthday and Mother’s Day are only weeks apart, my husband has the unenviable task of selecting two gifts in a row. I knew what I wanted. I was direct and clear. “I want an iPad, and I’d like you to buy me one for my birthday and Mother’s Day gift,” I announced. “Hmmm,” said my husband, “Great idea.” My head sang, I’m getting an iPad, I’m getting an iPad!

Mother’s Day arrived and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on my new toy. Our daughters were so excited to show me my gift. I closed my eyes as they led me to our family room. When I opened my eyes, I was shocked! You guessed it … my husband bought me a beautiful, new red tandem bicycle! And a big red bow! The girls were beaming. My husband was beaming. I had the unenviable task of downplaying my disappointment. I was crestfallen and hurt. Not about the lack of an iPad (yeah, right!), but that my husband was still clueless about giving me gifts after all these years. While I hid my dismay in front of the girls, my head sang: I’m not getting an iPad, I’m not getting an iPad.

After several anxious phone calls with supportive friends, I talked with my husband. His thought was truly lovely: instead of a toy that would distance us (iPad), he romantically thought a tandem bike would bring us closer – long rides, navigating and pedaling together – what could be better? Really? This year’s gift: a heavenly massage at my favorite local spa.

 This is a reader submission for “Worst Mother’s Day” stories. Please send your story of about 600 words detailing your sucky Mother’s Day to entries

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(photo: Pedro Salaverría/ Shutterstock)