Buying off the mother

Buying off the mother

If I ever tried to give Melanie a gift in payment for going through labor, I think she’d bean me over the head with it for being a sucker for yet another materialistic scam being pushed on gullible sheep, I mean, consumers.

Men who thought their lavish-jewelry duties were over after they purchased the engagement ring might get a shock when their babies are born. That’s when it’s time to shop for the “push present (search).”

But a bouquet of flowers won’t usually cut it. Nowadays, many husbands are expected to buy expensive presents to thank their wives for dealing with pregnancy and “pushing” through labor. The latest gift-giving occasion is just one more for men to add to their list—along with Valentine’s Day (search), birthdays, holidays and the all-important anniversary.

“My husband does not believe in jewelry, so I saw it as the perfect opportunity to cash in on the whole societal pressure thing,” laughed Seattle mom Julie Leitner, 32, who got a white gold and diamond bracelet in the $800-$1,500 price range when her daughter was born.

Push presents, which are usually jewelry but don’t have to be, have gained popularity in the last few years. Once one new mother gets such a gift, her friends embrace the trend and pass the word on to their hubbies. “I’d been told by so many people that you’re supposed to get one that I just assumed it was the norm,” said Leitner.

But many men are clueless about the concept. Some aren’t even very involved in buying the actual present. “I wouldn’t necessarily say the gift was from me,” said Bruce Owen, 35, of Oakland, Calif. “[My wife] picked it out. She bought it. It was more as if I didn’t have a choice.”

Because the baby itself is not present enough? There’s something almost ... “prostitutional” about it. Melanie says she wouldn’t mind a bouquet of flowers. If I bought her a $1K bracelet she’d turn me right out and send me back to the store to return it.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

  • The last thing on my mind was jewelry. I was tired. I still looked pregnant. If you really want to be nice to your wife after birth, mop the floor after making her something to eat.

  • A woman I work with just had a baby. Her pregnancy was difficult, she needed to be hospitalized a few times, and let’s just say her husband was less than supportive. She had to haul herself back and forth to the hospital on a few occasions. The baby was born recently, and her husband didn’t stay overnight in the hospital with them b/c “the nurses come in too much.” He’s leaving her and the baby in May for some bachelor party trip to Las Vegas that OF COURSE he just couldn’t miss.

    But don’t worry, everyone, there IS some good news here – he’s buying her a diamond bracelet!

    These two were married in the Catholic Church, which is to me the saddest part of all.

  • PS, a bouquet of flowers would seem to me more heartfelt and sweet than anything else. And Renee has some good suggestions too smile

  • Would anyone care to speculate about whether “push presents” will catch on in Italy?

  • Never heard of “push presents” until now, but I do have to disagree with most of the comments here.

    Back in 1978 when our daughter was born, my husband brought me flowers, but he also gave me a gold charm with a girls head in a circle, her name and the date engraved on the back.  Naturally I still have it.  It was probably much closer to $39.95 than $3900, but I was touched by the sentiment more than the size of the gift.  It was something I was not expecting because I hadn’t heard of gifts for mom.

    His original plan had been to give me the Hummel figurine of a baby in a carriage called “New Arrival;” and he had the whole family looking for one, but no one could find it.  Of course in 1978 Hummels had not become such expensive commodities as they are today.

    So I would have to vote yes for the push present, kept within the budget of course, but a keepsake nevertheless.  It is, afterall, a very sentimental and special moment when the baby is born, especially for mom; and one that should be marked with something that can be treasured, particularly once the baby is all grown up and off on her own.

  • But Carrie, you missed the point of the story. Push presents are supposed to be expensive gifts of jewelry, not given out of love and devotion, but out of obligation, because if the smug bastard doesn’t appreciate my many hours of labor pushing out his kid, the least he could do is give me something glittery to wear on my wrist.

    It’s akin to the sentiment that says a diamond engagement ring worth two month’s of the man’s salary is the minimum a woman should expect and her God-given birthright.

    It’s all about the entitlement.

  • “The people who do these things aren’t really in love with their spouses.”

    Right. Until the past two years or so, I never paid much attention to other people’s relationships, but now that I’ve started taking notice, it’s astounding to me, and depressing and frightening as well, how many marriages seem not to be based on love and respect.

  • I got the point of the story, Dom.  I just don’t think that gifts to mom after the birth of a baby are as mercenary as the article claims.

    But what sort of story would it be if it was about dad giving mom a piece of jewelry he could afford and mom being pleased with the gift?  It wouldn’t get published.  So the story has a mildly shocking ring to it instead.

    I don’t know, Dom, maybe my generation just never mastered mercenary; but I don’t know of a single woman who would put a price on delivering a baby.

    It just could be, though, that younger women at some gut level resent the fact that they are expected to perform equal to men in the economic sphere, and they have to do it with the disadvantages of pregnancy periodically.  Back in 1978 the second income was not so much of an economic necessity.  Maybe if women were permitted to get back to being mothers instead of wage earners there would no longer be a price put on labor and delivery, if in fact the reporter you cite is correct.

  • “PS, a bouquet of flowers would seem to me more heartfelt and sweet than anything else.”

    Oops…to Carrie: I think what your h did was very heartfelt and sweet also. I hope that you didn’t read the quote above as a slight to your h’s thoughtfulness.

    Take care –

  • Dom, you said the most important word: “entitlement.”

    When I was in the seminary, we had a week long retreat given by an awesome priest from Brooklyn, Father Tom Caserta.  He said the biggest and most dangerous problem among secular priests is that so many of them believe they are entitled to every material possession because they have given up marriage and family for the Church.

    He went on to say that we are entitled to nothing.  He warned us to read Colossians 1:12-20 more carefully , which we pray every week at Vespers.  He said that because we pray the Canticle so often, we often don’t pay attention to its meaning.  He said that it is one of the most dangerous passages for priests, because if we ignore the message, we are setting ourselves up for absolute failure.  He is the first person to convince me of the need for the spirit of poverty among Christians outside of the religious life.

    Everytime I want or need something, I often think of Father Caserta’s retreat.  The other day, I needed something for my bathroom and thought to myself, “am I buying this because I think I am entitled to it, or do I really need it?”

    This is a good question every husband and wife should ask each other, “do we need this?”  This is not to say that you shouldn’t go on vacation to St. Thomas or enjoy a dinner at a family restaurant, but it will allow the couple to

    Beyond the basic human goods and the occassional luxuries to stay sane, do we really need all that much.  We already have God the Father, who St. Paul says, “rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved Son.”

  • Don’t worry, no slight read in your statement, Joanne.

    Surly Beaver, I think it becomes mercenary when the gifts become expensive enough to disrupt family finances but the wife still expects it.  If the income is large, permitting a diamond bracelet to be accommodated without difficulty, then I don’t think the expectation is necessarily unreasonable.

    If it is a matter of entitlement, then the issue of justice comes into the picture. 

    Are we ever entitled to anything?  We are entitled to the most basic thing—life itself.  But that entitlement can cause major hassles for someone else. I’m thinking here of the woman suffering with morning sickness and still attempting to do all of the chores that are normally expected of her.  The baby’s entitlement to life puts the mother through the experience of labor and birth.  Does justice require her husband to recognize, on behalf of the baby, that she has made that sacrifice?  Pegnancy, afterall, is not a Sunday picnic, no matter how much we want the baby. 

    Must we expect suffering to be met with indifference in order to be good Christians, or is there room in Christian ethos for a normal expectation of recognition?

    How would Christ have reacted if He had appeared in the upper room after the crucifixion, and the apostles had turned to Him with an “Oh, hi there” and then gone back to their conversation with each other?

  • I think in the case of the couple I mentioned, the problem is the wife accepting a gift in place of her husband treating her and their child as priorities. I’m sure this also is nothing new, but it’s still sad. And maybe our contemporary culture’s lowered standards but greater disposable income makes this dynamic all the more common.

  • “Her husband planted a new tree in their yard for each of their children. I thought that was a really cool idea.”

    That is an extremely cool idea! smile

  • “pamper your wife by bringing home her favorite hot-fudge ice cream sundae “

    Cathy D,

    You read my mind!!! My absolute favorite dessert!
    And you can add sushi to the list too. Oh how I miss it!

    Hey, if you can afford jewelry and she likes it and you really want to get her something, I have no problem with that. I’m not really a jewelry person. Heck, I’d even have been content with no engagement ring (Though Dom did buy me a lovely one and I wear it with pride.) And right now I can think of a dozen things I’d prefer over a piece of jewelry… a new rug for the living room, a fat easy chair, a bedroom set. The thing is I don’t need any of that stuff and we’ll get it when we have room in the budget.

    It is nice to pamper yourself once in a while, but I like gifts to be gifts. Spontaneous and unexpected. If I felt Dom were getting me a present because of some social convention…ugh!