A Father’s Day Gift for this Mother

The best gift of all this Father's Day was the gift my husband gave to me. (Image courtesy of Microsoft Office)
The best gift of all this Father’s Day was the gift my husband gave to me.
(Image courtesy of Microsoft Office)

A few nights ago, in advance of the “holiday” around the corner, I asked my husband what he wanted for Father’s Day. Without skipping a beat, he told me about the CD he wanted. I sat in awe and surprise. I didn’t even have paper and pen nearby to note the name of the Chinese classical guitarist he had discovered via his morning commute and was entirely unprepared for a quick, honest answer. And, in his answer came a really valuable gift for me.

Invariably, when Mother’s Day, my birthday, Christmas, or anniversary rolls around, my husband asks, “What do you want  for (said occasion) ?” to which I usually reply, “Nothing, I can’t think of anything I need.”  Secretly, I keep a list of things I want and still, I say “Nothing.” I’m not sure why. I don’t want to appear greedy? There’s another bill due? Maybe, but in all honestly, I want him to know me so well he doesn’t need to ask. I want romance. I want the soap opera, fairy tale, romance novel element of surprise.

Big mistake. Big.

In the absence of honesty one birthday, I received a small, self-defense, switch-blade styled knife, which I did happen to love for the sentiment he wanted to keep me safe while working in the wild jungle of San Francisco, but certainly didn’t swoon me.  Am I alone in the receipt of annual Christmas socks? (Though lacking romance, are thoughtful because my feet are always cold.) And while many of you may be jealous over the (last-minute) Mother’s Day card that accompanied nothing (because I said I wanted nothing!), try not to covet.

Certainly, I’m not the only one who’s received a gift that raised an eyebrow, caused the slamming of a door, or perhaps yielded muffled tears in the darkness of the night. Anyone? Anyone?

Many years ago, while bemoaning my husband’s latest expression of love, I remember my mom telling me that I shouldn’t expect, or rather I should stop expecting, my husband to be a mind reader. It wasn’t fair to him or to our marriage. In fact, she explained, it was a set-up and any disappointment I felt when the “special day” arrived was not his fault but entirely my own if I hadn’t been honest.

She had first-hand experience and had learned from the error of her ways.

She and my father had one of those storybook romances of 50 years. He always shopped carefully to find the perfect “something special” and was always spot-on with the gifts he offered. Well, almost always. Looking back, I can recall some of my mom’s expressions I had clearly misread at the time. Far from loving every gift but masterfully veiled by her love for him, I now know there were gifts that made her privately question WTF was he thinking! Those, she confessed to me, usually came when she said she wanted “Nothing” for (fill in the blank) holiday.

Together, my husband and I have celebrated more than half my birthdays and  Christmases, close to 3 decades of anniversaries, and 2 decades worth of Mother’s Days. And, despite my mother’s wisdom, in the last 28 years, I can probably count on two hands the times I’ve boldly said, “I want ________ for _________.”  To my fault and my fault alone, however, I can’t count the times I’ve felt secretly disappointed when he missed the obscure gift mark, despite his best mind-reading efforts. In all fairness to him, there have been several times he knocked it out of the park and surprised me to tears with his loving thoughtfulness: a bouquet of wildflowers he picked while on a hike, a necklace he noticed caught my eye in a jewelry store window, a leather-bound journal with a supply of extra fat pens because the thin pens are too hard on my finger joints. He may not be suave like a soap opera character, but I know he loves me deeply, and he deserves honesty, always.

I’ve  thought a lot about his bold and quick response to my Father’s Day inquiry. He clearly thought about what he wanted; there was no hesitation nor tool, new wallet, or other “practical” gift suggestion for me. I was both impressed and grateful for his specific request. It certainly makes my job easier because I’m confident that’s what he wants; there’s no hidden agenda or secret wish list.

Guys are like that. They’re straight forward. Sometimes to a fault, but that’s for another post. They don’t make you guess about what they’re thinking or what they want for any occasion. They tell you. You buy it. They’re happy. Win-win. End of story.

Except it’s not the end. The end of this story is the next time my husband asks what I want, I will be honest and tell him, whether it’s where I want to go for dinner or the new purse I saw at the mall. Because, my husband is no more a mind reader than I am, and when you’ve shared 3 decades together you should be able to eat the entire dessert, by yourself, in front of him, and say honestly what you want for your birthday.

How about you…do you say what you want, or do you make him/her guess?



28 thoughts on “A Father’s Day Gift for this Mother”

  1. As a single mom and someone who has been unmarried for over 7 years now, I have to imagine it must be wonderful to have a husband, a man you’ve been married to for almost 3 decades, who even cares to ask! And, knowing you from your wonderful words here in this blog, Mary, I’m sure you appreciate him fully! 🙂 I do have, however, a couple of fun ways to share gift giving between spouses: When I was married to Maycee’s dad we always gave each other small written lists for Christmas and birthday to pick and choose because neither one of us like to “ask” for anything personally. If we didn’t do that as a joint decision to cut back on costs, etc, we would go somewhere fun that we’d both enjoy the shopping and “get each other” a gift during the visit. Sometimes the gift giving seemed pointless considering we both worked and shared the same bank account. My mom and step-dad do things similarly. They agreed to “no gifts” for the big holidays and birthdays as they are older truly want for nothing. But, if one half wants to get something special for the other at any random time of the year as a surprise, they do! Great post, and glad you have decided to go for the “up front” method like your hubby! XOXO-Kasey


    1. Oh, and one more funny thing…when I dated a guy in college and didn’t tell him what I wanted for Christmas, he got me a toilet seat (because I needed one, I guess)! Ewwwwww! 😉


      1. Kasey!! 🙂

        First off, I love the idea of the lists and the shared shopping trip. I will suggest we give that a try this year. Now that Macey is getting older, do you do this with here? Perhaps let her go shopping with a friend or family member while you do your own? I love the idea of the letting our kids choose something for us they know we would like. Gift giving can be challenging for kids, too.

        And a toilet seat?! Oh, be still my romantic heart! 🙂


        1. Ha, ha…I know, right? What waaaas he thinking?! Toilets??? I haven’t done the list thing with Maycee yet, but always asks me what I want for birthday, Christmas, Mom’s Day, etc, and I do share with her a few things. Then her dad usually takes her shopping to get me something. She has a VERY good memory and tries really hard to get what I ask for. It’s super cute! 🙂


          1. Such a sweet girl you have there, but you already knew that didn’t you?
            P.S. Sorry for the misspelling on her name in my first comment–I should know how to spell it by now!


          2. Ha, ha….I didn’t even notice, so no worries! End of my day here at work…ready to be done! 🙂 XOXO


  2. Ah yes, I am learning the same lesson! I so enjoy hearing Dennis Praeger on the radio. He does a male/female hour that is so inspiring. He also has a happiness hour that has helped me out from time to time. He is a great author too. Well, we’ll get there yet Mary!


  3. I love this, because I always (after 25 years of marriage) hope for romance but, alas, it doesn’t have like in a Cary Grant movie. The last piece of jewelry my husband bought me was a pin in the shape of a lady bug. Oh, my goodness. Now? I love a quiet dinner out at a nice restaurant. We are blessed to have such loving husbands in our lives, and the rest truly isn’t as important as that. I cherish the time we have together!


  4. I never have an answer to give, but usually because there’s truly nothing I want. It drives A mad when I say, “I already bought everything I wanted!” So I don’t get gifts, and I’m OK with that, though I do know–from growing up with a gang of guys– that when there is something I need, I have to be totally straightforward about it or I won’t get it. I like the straightforwardness of it. 😀


    1. There really is rarely anything I want, because I can “just go buy” it, but I’ve also learned that when he wants to give me a special something, it’s a great deal easier and more satisfying (for both of us) if I have a few ideas to give him, whether it’s a need or really a want. Straightforwardness avoids some real pitfalls and WTF’s! LOL!


  5. I gave up expecting anything long ago. Randy invariably forgets just about everything. Once he realizes what day it is, I usually get flowers. Today is our anniversary, and we agreed we didn’t want anything…since we are headed on a 3 week vacation shortly. It used to upset me, but not anymore.


    1. If we have a vacation and/or a special, budget-limiting something planned/purchased, all expectations are out the window. This past November, we did a small remodel on our kitchen and I let him know I expected and wanted nothing for Christmas, and I really meant it.


  6. I stopped saying “nothing” too because that’s what I would end up getting! Now, if there’s something I really want, I make it very clear! Although, like you, I still hope for the romance and the surprise and the gift that someone who knows me really well just understands inherently that I want! Sometimes it even happens!


  7. This post made me laugh out loud (for real) because we JUST went through this exact situation… So funny! And so, so true!


    1. Thanks, Maren! It’s so funny how, when we really do want for nothing, we say we want nothing. However, that makes the job of those who want to offer us something we might ACTUALLY want that much harder. 🙂


  8. This is so true! Last Mother’s Day, when my husband asked what I wanted, I reminded him that I wasn’t his mother. And of course, he didn’t do anything. I may have pouted. Later, I reminded him that if a woman says “oh, don’t do anything” for her birthday, anniversary, valentine’s day or mother’s day, you should never, ever, under any circumstances, believe her!


    1. Isn’t that the truth, Kim! As has already been coined, “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” which is why we should always say what we want; we speak different languages. 🙂


  9. You are the only person who can read my mind!

    I stopped saying “nothing” a few years ago. And let me tell you, Mr. Wonderful had a bit of a tough time with it. If I didn’t want Chinese, I said so. When he pushed, I held my ground. I was accused of bitchiness. And I understood his point in a way. “Doormat Lisha” was easy to get along with. She went along with everything. “Honest Lisha” took some getting used to. But she’s here to stay, so the world needs to learn to love her!

    And last Christmas, I got a fabulous new DSLR camera that I’ve wanted for years instead of nothing.


    1. I LOVE the “Honest Lisha” and I know I love the “Honest Mary” when she has made appearances. It’s a transition for all involved, most certainly! However, it is worth every last ounce of effort!

      Thanks for reading my mind so well, Lisha!


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