This week’s post was written by guest author, James Browning. It is a tongue-in-cheek look at the challenges of planning for Mother’s Day from a dad’s perspective.
Mother’s Day is a great holiday that really needs to be celebrated everyday of the year. Moms really are worth it. They need to be thanked and celebrated for all the hard, noisy, messy, and soggy work that they do the rest of the year.
Even though dads have been classically known as the fun parent, we are also traditionally not known for always anticipating our wives every whim. This is our first Mother’s Day since Eliza was born. I am planning on really going all out in celebrating Mother’s Day with my wife. And I am determined to succeed. It just turns out that asking my wife a direct question is a mistake. After checking in with other new fathers I have discovered a problem: moms want you to know what they want without directly telling you.
Don’t worry, dads, things aren’t as bad as they seem. You don’t have to be a mind reader to treat your wife to the perfect Mother’s Day, you just have to apply a few basic communication principles to find out how to treat her they way she deserves.
Questions Are Ok… Just Not The Ones You Want To Ask
Be indirect. Don’t just go in there and ask, “So, what do you want to do for Mother’s Day, this year?” And especially don’t do it the day before Mother’s Day. Even though you are attempting to be thoughtful and appreciative, when you are asking her what she wants to do all she might hear is, “I haven’t really been paying attention to you, and don’t know what you’re into.”
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ask questions though, you definitely should! But you have to be indirect. You have to be curious. Ask about whether she feels like a night out or a homemade brunch? Ask her if she has been more into gifts or experiences lately? I actually recommend going extra indirect and asking her “what was one of the most meaningful gifts she’s gotten since becoming a mother? Another question that might tell you a lot is “what have been some of her favorite experiences with her children?” Think like James Bond. You want the conversation to be informative and flirty. You want her to give up as much information as possible without it feeling like work.
Guys it is not enough to be indirect, you also have to be specific. Don’t ask extremely general questions that are a lot of work to answer. Remember the point of this is to make it easy for your wife to answer. Yes or no questions are great (but don’t expect a yes or no answer). If you are really good at this, she will enjoy the questioning process. It is a treat for her to be engaging in adult conversation!
Surprises Are Great… But Not Completely Surprising
A couple of years ago, a friend of mine was out Mother’s Day shopping with his elementary aged kids. One of them had a friend who had recently gotten a new pet, a roborovksi hamster. “Robo hamster” as they are sometimes known as, are just like regular hamsters, except much higher maintenance and much less snuggly. Also they like to run around in their cages a lot at night making as much noise as possible. Naturally the kids thought that this was the perfect pet to get their mother for Mother’s Day, and somehow, someway, the dad went along with this. That Mother’s Day his wife was VERY surprised. I am not recommending this kind of surprise.
Do moms like surprises? Yes they do. Do they like being surprised by rodents that can literally die from loud noises or bright lights? Nope, that is too surprising and frankly represents more work. If you would like to surprise your wife for Mother’s Day this year, make sure it isn’t going to result in any of the following:
- an argument
- daily obligation (such as pet feedings)
- waking up more than an hour before originally planned
Ideally your wife will need to know that this celebrative day is being planned weeks in advance. Anticipation can be a powerful tool in your perfect Mother’s Day experience. She will delight in the thought of being surprised. She may even label you “husband of the year.” Which leads us to…
Get Her Excited About Mother’s Day… But Not Too Excited
Your wife married you because you like to dream big, make plans, change the world. The only problem is that you still haven’t changed that light bulb. Details are important to a woman. Don’t make promises about Mother’s Day that you can’t deliver on.
One of my friends tells the story of the time that her husband had led her outside to give her a birthday present. There, parked in the street in front of their car, was a shiny new Vespa Scooter. She was so surprised and excited! But instead of going up to the scooter, her husband walked up to their car, opened the back seat, and pulled out a neck pillow. The scooter belonged to someone else.
In this case, the husband had technically done nothing wrong. Perhaps he had failed in the wrapping department. They had never talked about getting a scooter and she had never expressed interest in one. She had even specifically asked for a neck pillow for her birthday. Which is why he was a little surprised when she appeared slightly disappointed by his gift. Context is everything.
Part of your job here is to actively manage her Mother’s Day expectations. You want her excitement level to be just slightly below what is proportionate to your plans. This leavesyou a little bit of room for impressing her but not so much that she doesn’t anticipate or look forward to Mother’s Day. A neck pillow is not worthy of making her walk out to the car to see it. A neck pillow is something that you casually hand her and tell her that it comes with a massage.
Kids Are Cute… But They’re Not Really Helpful
It is a good idea to use your kids in your plans. They are, after all, the catalyst for her motherhood. Kids are cute as well. Your child still has the ability to poorly draw a card and hand her some burnt toast and orange juice and still make her happy. Dad, you’ve outgrown that. Use the available tools at hand
But let us also remember that your kids have never ever actually been helpful. Mother’s Day isn’t really about the kids, it’s about the moms (remember how your wedding was about her too? It’s like that). Your children are props at best on Mother’s Day and unreliable ones at that. If you are planning a surprise, don’t tell your kids. Or if you’re really sneaky, feed them false or misleading information. You can’t totally get rid of the kids by dropping them off at a babysitter’s because your wife will wonder where herdarling angels are, but the less they are actually involved the better.
Dad’s, You’ve Got This!
Basically Mother’s Day is just like a date. Remember dating? A million years ago, before the age of the dinosaurs, and even before you had kids, you used to go out of your way to impress this girl. Try doing it again this May! Remember, the whole planning and execution should make her feel like the most special person in the room at all times. That is how flirting works, after all, and that is how you treat your wife to Mother’s Day without making her plan it herself.