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The Father’s Day Shuffle: What Are You Doing For Your Man on Sunday?

Nick is a great father so of course I want to do something nice for him this Father’s Day. And now he has two kids, which means he’s twice the dad and deserves twice the honor. Or something like that. But I’m feeling more than the usual what-to-get-him pressure. I’m not sure if you remember this post from a while back about how Nick feels like he does so much more parenting than other men. And he does. When it comes to our kids we’re pretty much 50/50. But that’s by design, not because I’m not doing my job as a mother or he’s some saint. Regardless, Nick has mentioned more than once that he’d like his 50 percent to be noticed, celebrated in some way, commemorated. And that’s why I’m particularly confused and unprepared this week. Do I get a tee-shirt that says #1 Dad? A coffee mug? A mouse pad? Somehow I don’t think that’s what he meant. But I also don’t think he wants a Rolex. Perhaps something in between?

It’s sort of a running joke in our relationship that Nick and I are not great gift-givers to each other. Because of a few doozies or complete misses (two years ago I found my unsigned Mother’s Day cards in a random CVS bag in the back of our car two days after Mother’s Day, for example), we’ve fallen into this comfort zone of who-gives-a%$! gift giving. Nick thinks this is funny, I think it’s just a lame excuse to not have to put any thought into our gifts (Nick often buys my Christmas presents on Xmas Eve and every year when he pretends he has to go get a haircut, I want to kill him—‘tis the season, huh?). I’m not innocent either. I think every one of Nick’s Christmas gifts last year came from those over-priced gift carts at the mall. Although he did really love the Peter Griffin tee shirt that says “Everybody Loves a Big Guy.”

This situation really bothers me. Because I don’t think I’m a bad gift giver. Maybe a lazy gift giver (e.g. it’s just now occurring to me to shop for Father’s Day), but not bad. And as the constant overachiever that I am, I want to be better. This year in particular I’d like to do something special. Special does not mean expensive, so that should narrow things down a bit. It goes without saying that I’ll be on wake-up duty letting Nick sleep in, but after that I got nada. He doesn’t want to golf—he honestly prefers to spend his Sundays at home, God love him—so we’ll probably wind up playing in the yard with the kids all day. Maybe going to my parents’ for a swim. I will definitely make him a nice dinner (something rich and creamy involving mushrooms and pancetta) but that’s not exactly a gift. What I’m saying is, I don’t know how to make Sunday feel different. I do not have time to do anything cool with photos or handprints or anything crafty and heartfelt. He does not need a wallet, a belt, a tie, a watch or any other “dad” gifts. And he’s pretty much impossible to shop for anyway. Here’s a sampling of what I’ve gotten him for birthdays/anniversaries/holidays in the past, with varying degrees of success:

A surprise solo trip to Dublin to visit his friend (this was right after I was diagnosed with cancer back in 2001 and the dude needed a break—I also had crazy frequent flier miles in the good old days).

A surprise solo trip to Knoxville to see his college boys (we both went to UT) for his 30th birthday. Notice how I led with the two coolest gifts?

A gym membership—I thought this was an awesome present, Nick still can’t over it and thinks I was trying to tell him he was fat. I wasn’t.

A facial—he was taken aback by this at first (especially since he’d just gotten me one and was convinced I’d re-gifted) but he loved it. Oh, and I didn’t re-gift. At least I don’t think I did, it was a long time ago.

Family Guy boxers—he loved these. The truth: I found them on the giveaway table at Glamour.

An awesome, handmade leather briefcase/satchel thing. I bought this for him many years ago and he LOVED it and got a ton of use out it (thanks for the tip, Lauren!)

A grill brush with a light on it (OK, this was bad but I got sucked into The Sharper Image and, well, you’ve all been there, right?).

A gift certificate to a knife skills class at The Institute of Culinary Education, which was in our old neighborhood in NYC. I thought this was the coolest gift ever and was so excited about it. He thought it was really weird considering he was not a big cook and he never used it. Grrr. I could start a fight all over again about this one.

Slippers. Every single Christmas.

A pink shirt from Thomas Pink. Thomas Pink is really freakin expensive. In retrospect I should have gone with a more subtle, more versatile color.

First, my ego needs to know: Do you think I’m a bad gift giver? Obviously I put a lot of the fancier gifts from our pre-kids, pre-mortgage days on here, when in actuality—like every Christmas for the past five years—we usually put a $100 cap on gifts to each other. But still, that’s $100 I don’t know what to do with this week. Any thoughts? What are you getting your men? And how are you celebrating Father’s Day this year? I can use any and all ideas!