Dear Mom, Interrupted:
My wife is pregnant with our first child, and she’s telling me that she deserves something called a “push gift” after the baby is born.
What the heck is that? Did you get a gift like that when you had your babies?
Signed, Pushmi Pullyu
Oh, you poor thing. Here you thought that you only had to keep track of birthdays, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and a variety of anniversaries, up to and including when you first met, first kissed, and first argued about gifts for all those anniversaries.
Simply put, a “push gift” is a crass name for what you give the mother of your child after she, ahem, “pushes” out the baby, because quite frankly, I think we can all agree that there just aren’t enough gift giving occasions for men to feel inadequate about. Women who wind up with Caesarean sections are also technically entitled to push gifts, with an extra bonus for catheterizations. Push gifts range from flowers to expensive pieces of jewelry.
The concept of rewarding your baby mama with baubles has roots in England and India. There are some guidelines regarding scale: in India, you’d be expected to come up with a bigger gift if your wife produced a boy.
A jewelry store in this country first presented the term in 2005 when they advertised diamond earrings with the line “She delivered your first born, now give her twins.” Smelling an obnoxious opportunity, a push present registry was first introduced in 2007.
The editor of a prominent baby ezine observed that this kind of gift was “more and more an expectation of moms these days that they deserve something for bearing the burden for nine months, getting sick, ruining their body. The guilt really gets piled on.”
Wait a minute: A study conducted in 2004 concluded that 60 percent of pregnancies were planned. If I went out of my way to bear this burden, get sick, and ruin my body, do I deserve diamond earrings? If I spent the first 10 years of my fertile life composing a list of baby names and telling everyone I knew that all I wanted was a houseful of children, should I be the one who’s getting a gift here when I just got everything I ever wanted?
In these circumstances, shouldn’t I be giving my husband a “gift gift?”
But this isn’t helping you. OK, the answer is: It depends. If she stood over you waving an ovulation predictor and screaming at you to quit watching The Golf Channel RIGHT NOW, maybe not. If you didn’t even have to turn off SportsCenter, maybe you should get her a little something.
And in all fairness, the labor distribution in this baby-making enterprise is, in fact, a little unevenly distributed.
Me? Fifteen years ago, my husband did produce a gift after I produced a 10-pound baby boy, which in India would have gotten me a diamond necklace and no chores for a year. Dad, Interrupted, who hadn’t gotten the memo about that twin thing, proudly gave me a copy of Rush Limbaugh’s book See, I Told You So, which he himself had received as a gift.
So let this serve as a cautionary tale: Don’t re-gift a lousy gift as a push gift.
Ahwatukee Foothills resident Elizabeth Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears monthly.