It took a Hall of Shame performance on the mother of all holidays to finally get it right.
It’s Mother’s Day, 2006, and I’m shopping for Mother’s Day. That afternoon, I arrive at our family’s holiday gathering with a card and a potted petunia from the Home Depot. As the other moms and grandmoms dive into their gifts, I hand my wife, Brandy, the recyclable, unfertilized tokens of my affection. “I’m so lucky to have you in my life,” reads the card’s handwritten sentiment. “You’ve made me a better person and a better father.” She smiles sweetly.
Extend hand. Pat back. Repeat.
That evening, Brandy walks past the Mother’s Day card I gave my mom, which sits open on the kitchen counter. She takes a peek. “I’m so lucky to have you in my life. You’ve made me a better person and a better father.” More than half of the message was identical.
Caught in a deadline pinch, the writer plagiarizes his own work to make life easier on himself. It was a monumentally blockheaded move, one that kinda sorta broke my wife’s heart. The card was subsequently trashed. The petunia died a slow death in its army-green plastic container.
Allow me to come clean here, moms: I’m the Mother’s Day bogeyman hiding under your bed. I’m the reason you’re worried that May 12 will be a letdown. It’s sad flowers and hastily conceived greeting-card messages that women dread most. But you shouldn’t worry, because our credit card statements prove that we don’t skimp on Mother’s Day. In fact, we take it much more seriously than Father’s Day. Last year, the average consumer spent $152 on Mother’s Day, according to the National Retail Federation survey conducted by BIGinsight. Compare that with the $117 the average person spent for Father’s Day.
When broken down by gender, it turns out dudes do the majority of the heavy gifting on Mother’s Day: Men spend an average of $190, while women spend $117. Moms score pricier goodies like jewelry and spa treatments; dads make due with gardening tools and ties.
But there’s a difference between cost and thought, which Brandy explained the following year. She began dropping Mother’s Day hints around New Year’s, and despite the previous year’s epic fail, the reminders rubbed me the wrong way. Then Brandy shared something that put everything into perspective.
“Mother’s Day is more important to me than any other holiday,” she said. “It’s the only holiday I had to earn.”
Here’s my simple message for the dads out there: Put thought before cost. Planning a night on the town? Make an invitation and put it in the mailbox. Cooking dinner at home? Create a menu in PowerPoint (and get funky with the clip art!). Lastly, don’t use the same sentimental message twice.
Let’s do it right this year, fellas, because hell hath no fury like a woman scorned on the second Sunday in May.