Mother’s Day Fail: Gift Giving Is Not My Husband’s Strong Suit

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[AT]mommyish[DOT]com.

(photo: Pedro Salaverría/ Shutterstock)

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  • LiteBrite

    And I almost spit Lipton cup-o-soup through my nose at the train set. All I could I picture was your breathless anticipation and him beaming like he had just won the lotttery. You open the gift to find….a train set. Huh?

    Speaking of iPads, I asked DH for that as my Christmas present last year. I got a mattress pad instead. Well, it was a “pad”….

    • Mary

      And I love that you eat Lipton Cup-o-Soup! My sister! Here’s to all “pads,” whatever shape, size or function! Thanks for reading & commenting!

  • Eloise

    Why are your husband and your sisters buying you gifts for Mother’s Day? Is this the level of entitlement that all mothers should look forward to?

    • Vini

      Thanks for saying that! I always thought the same – why would anyone but your kids get you Mother’s day gift? Glad to know there are others like me out there.
      I wonder if the women who feel entitled to so much appreciation on Mother’s day really understood the role they were taking on when they became mothers. If you love your kids and are loved in return, a simple acknowledgement of the day, a small card etc., would be more than enough.

    • Mary

      I know it’s hard to tell from my story, but I really am an entitled bitch. I’m grateful my other more selfless qualities mostly balance out the entitlement side. I’ve been told I”m loveable even with my short-comings! Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • Lisa

      I was the entitled one yesterday, you are today. We can share the title, k? Great post!

  • Frances

    I love this story! It’s well written, funny and sweet. What’s up with all the negativity in the comments lately?

    The train set made me laugh and do a facepalm at the same time! We don’t do the whole mother’s day present thing at my house but this is TOTALLY something my man would do. For our first Valentine’s he gave me this huge teddybear/flower gift that gave me a terrible allergic reaction, lol. We don’t do V day any more either.

    • Mary

      Thanks, Frances! Love that your man and my man are on same wavelength! We’re heading toward not doing the Hallmark holidays either. Maybe we’ll start with Father’s Day ;-). Hope your day is happy!

  • puckersbabe

    Awww! I could see how you were feeling from this, but I kinda like your hubby’s thought on why the bike over the iPad was ideal. Just like you, I probably would’ve been a little ticked off, but with the explanation given, I would’ve smiled and thought it was great after all. But I’m with you, sometimes men just don’t get it. These days my hubby gifts me money or gift cards so that I can buy whatever I desire. I like the occasional thought up gift, but my hubby knows how extremely picky I am. The bike sounds awesome, though! You get to look silly (in a good way, of course!) and cute on a tandem, get some exercise and you get to spend ample time with the family! Don’t worry about the negative comments. BTW, your sisters giving you a gift for your 1st Mother’s day was super sweet of them, although I don’t expect that they (or any other family member other than hubby and kids) continue to do so as time goes on. If they did, that would be their choice, and an awesome choice that would be. I certainly don’t expect anything from anyone other than my family, but anything received would certainly be a nice gesture. Great story, but pancakes through the nose sounds painful! Yikes! LOL!

    • Mary

      Thanks for the love! I love your vision of us looking cute and having fun on the tandem bike (I probably need a cute new tandem bike-riding outfit ;-)). I’m with you on all the gift giving – my sisters were so incredibly thoughtful and I am incredibly picky. My husband can’t win with me! Happy, happy Mother’s Day! No pancakes on the menu at our house this a.m.!

    • puckersbabe

      You’re welcome! Yeah, men just can’t figure us out! My hubby loves Star Wars and so every once in awhile he’ll buy me a SW shirt. Sigh… it’s still done with love though, so I wash it and wear it (I won’t lie, more often than not, they are unique and pretty awesome!) Hope you are having a great Mother’s Day with your awesome bike and family! As per our comment, my hubby took us to IHOP (LOVE!) and instead of getting their new Red Velvet pancakes, I went with waffles and chicken fingers instead! It was yummy!

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  • zaball33

    Wow.. you’re kinda self centered..