Birthdays, anniversaries and these damn Hallmark holidays -- they bring out the worst in every relationship. As a man, you're screwed if you do and you're (more) screwed if you don't. I really want to sympathize with you men; but, then I think of all the emotional turmoil you have caused me in the past, and the pity fades pretty quickly.
1. You bought flowers.
What did you manage to scrape out from the bottom of the Walmart flower bucket on Sunday morning? Wilted roses? The reject tulips? Carnations? Whatever it was, it was probably the wrong flower, the wrong color and the wrong stem length. Perhaps more importantly, you've created another chore for a poor, overworked mother: clipping stems, changing vase water, replenishing plant food, not to mention the dead leaves and flower petals that constantly need to be picked up. Many of us have enough trouble taking care of the other living things in the home, thank you very much.
2. You bought your mother a better gift than the mother of your children.
This is tricky. She's your mom. She deserves the best of everything, and then some. That DIL-MIL tug-o-war will probably end up ripping both of your arms off. No one wins. Especially not you.
3. You bought the mother of children a better gift than your mother.
You saw what happened in the delivery room. You will never forget. NEVER. You see the love in her eyes when she holds your baby. With each passing day, you witness her resilience, her strength and her beauty; you have a newfound appreciation for your wife. She deserves to know how much you appreciate the amazing mother that she is to your children. Unfortunately, that's exactly the kind of thinking that will get you silent treatment from mama bear dearest and widen the rift between MIL and DIL. Good try, but no dice.
4. You bought the exact same gift for both your mother and the mother of your children.
Ha! You thought you figured out a clever solution to this age-old dilemma. You were so wrong. How could you possibly equate the two; She's your mother. And, she's your wife. Not the same. Not the same, at all.
5. You tried to do the breakfast in bed thing.
Unless you're an actual chef, mothers deserve better than a over-toasted bagel for breakfast on their 'special' day. Your lack of generosity with the cream cheese speaks volumes and the watery coffee should have just been left out altogether. What a way to start the day.
6. Sweet things that leave a bitter taste.
How could you go wrong with chocolate? You were certain women would choose chocolate over men any day of the week, and you're probably right. Except that, now, you are indirectly the cause of the regret and guilt that follows the indulgence. While she's looking down at the empty box, she's thinking about what a thoughtless gift it was. Because of you, she won't fit into that awesome summer dress she bought on sale this winter. Thanks a lot.
7. Family Time.
It's called Mother's day so moms must want to spend time being mothers. Not really. A break would have been nice. A day off from the daily grind -- toddler battles, teenage fury or whatever stage of the childrearing war you are currently facing. But, instead, you chose to plan a picnic, trip to the zoo or to host a brunch with the extended family. It was lovely. Now, when's the holiday part happening?
Unless you're an awesome fashionista who knows the right size and style when you see it, you probably screwed this one up too. Too big and you're basically saying she's a whale in your eyes. Too small and you just inadvertently pointed out that she's gained a few pounds. Make a mental note -- clothing is never a good idea.
If you are the mother of small children, this is one of those things that reminds you of your childless days. The days when evenings meant diving into a good read with a hot cup of tea. The post-kid-you spends evenings sprawled across the living room floor making a feeble attempt to gather the clutter that will inevitably reappear the next day. Any attempt to open a book after bedtime results in staring at the first page until your eyes blur. Eventually, thoughts drift to tomorrow's to-do list or Scandal. We are just too damn tired.
10. Cleaning products or small appliances.
Oh, boy. Gifts like these are the reason I choose not to sympathize with men. You're an idiot.
Next year, don't even bother trying.
Anjali Joshi blogs at The Adventures of a New Mom, where this post originally appeared.