Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Mother's Day Guide for New Dads

New to Fatherhood? Don't Fret: The Do's and Don'ts of Mother's Day
by Neha Prakash

Here's the situation. You're a new father. You're dealing with pressure. Anxiety. Poop. (Lots of poop.) And then May rolls around, hopefully bringing May flowers... and Mother's Day.

As if you don't have enough to worry about, right?

The first thing you need to know about Mother's Day is that yes, you are obligated to do something nice for the mother of your child. Yes, we know she's not your mother, but without you she wouldn't be anyone's mother, so man up and mark your calendar (Mother's Day is May 9, in case you didn't know).

The second thing you need to know is that asking your single friends for help shopping for your wife will result in answers like these:

DON'T: get her a "Mommy Dearest" DVD.
DON'T: choose that particular dinner to introduce her to your girlfriend.

(Lesson: Single guys are funny, but they have no idea what they're talking about when it comes to Mother's Day.)

But, hey, don't panic! Holidash has got your back. To find out how to handle that first Mother's Day, we spoke with a few guys who have been there and done that (not always the right way, unfortunately for them). Here are some do's and don'ts from real-life dads. Take notes.

DO: Get her a card/gift.
DON'T: Ask your single guy friends for advice.

We've already covered why your single friends are a bad source of Mother's Day shopping advice; the one thing they do seem to understand, though, is that you should get your baby mama something to show how much you care. Ben Kimball, a sawmill laborer and volunteer firefighter from Pennsylvania, says via email that on Mother's Day, dads should make mom "feel as important and special as she is every day." Even if you know that she knows how much you appreciate all she does, be it working, wiping noses (or worse), or both, this is a day to show her exactly how you feel.

It doesn't have to be anything fancy. I usually save the big gifts for anniversaries. But you should probably pick up a present of some sort, at least flowers. Or keep things simple and go with a card. That's what Ben says he did for his wife's first Mother's Day, and it was a hit.

DO: Involve the kids.
DON'T: Expect them to do anything without your help.

Even if the special lady in your family picks up your dirty socks for you (and if so, consider yourself lucky), it's important to remember that she's not your mom. Since this is her first mother's day, your kids will probably be too little to do much in the way of gift buying. But that doesn't mean they can't contribute. Joshua Lewis Berg, a children's entertainer living in Burbank, CA, says via Facebook that one year he picked up a t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan "Hand's Down, Best Mother Ever." Then he increased the cute factor by including paint-dipped hand prints from his little girl. What did mom think? "She still wears the shirt to this day," Josh says. All together now -- awww! Josh, you're making the rest of us look bad. Thanks, man.

DO: Remember that she's your wife.
DON'T: Forget that she's a mom.

While you're honoring your wife for all the things she does as a mother, do not make the mistake of ignoring her wife-ness on Mother's Day -- or any other day of the year. Ben from Pennsylvania says that while the kids are focused on her as a mother (of course), it is a good idea for a husband to focus on his wife as -- well, as a wife.

This does not mean that you should get her Victoria's Secret lingerie for Mother's Day. Save it for your anniversary. (And be honest -- that's a gift for you, dude.) The trick is to find a balance between the two roles, something that can be accomplished by making sure that on this day it is all about her. Barack Levin, an author living in Atlanta, GA, decided that this year, he will send his wife to a spa for Mother's Day, for a day off from the kids. Why? Because, he says via email, she deserves it.

DO: Get the kids involved.
DON'T: Put them in charge.

We all know that moms want their kids to recognize how much they do as mothers, but let's face it: The pre-school set are not the best party planners. Involve your kids in whatever you're cooking up for their mother, but don't hand the whole celebration over to them. Continuing in his quest to make the rest of us look bad, Joshua Lewis Berg tells us that he includes the kids in any Mother's Day plans because "it is, after all, 'mother's' day, not 'wife's' day." Jonathan Sager, a Mainframe Administrator from Callicoon Center, NY (and husband of Holidash contributor Jeanne Sager) says via email that "as a new father [approaching] Mother's Day for the first time, it is important to let [your wife] know that that she is a good mother and that you appreciate what she does for your child."

Gregg Lichtenstein, Los Angeles, CA, screenwriter and creator of obesity-fighting performance troupe The Activators, went a step further on his first Mother's Day. "Our daughter was only three weeks old and my wife was exhausted," he says via email, "so I decided to become a 'manny' for the day. I took care of our baby and also waited on my wife hand and foot. This included meals in bed, an endless supply of magazines, her favorite DVDs, foot rubs, and an entire day of uninterrupted sleep. I didn't focus on her as a wife or a mother – instead, she was a queen for a day. And it was just what she needed."

DO: Go all out for Mother's Day.
DON'T: Assume that you're off the hook when Sunday is over.

Mother's Day comes but once a year, but a mom is a mom every single day. "One word of advice for dads (new and old)," says Barack Levin. "Do not wait for Mother's Day to show your appreciation to the mother of your children. She deserves more than just one day." Joshua Berg says that dads need to make sure that mom "feels appreciated every day for what she does... but especially on Mother's Day, let her know that you are thankful." Whether mom is a full-time homemaker or CEO of the MegaGlobalHuge Corporation, she's still the mom. And this is her special day. So don't screw it up!

But hey, no pressure.

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