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What NOT to Get a Mom for Mother’s Day

Family lore has it that my father-in-law once gave my mother-in-law a microwave for Mother’s Day.

The first time I heard about this I said, “A microwave. Handy.”

“A microwave,” my wife said again.

“Did you have one already?”

“A microwave,” my wife repeated.

“I’m sensing you’re trying to tell me something here,” I said.

Something that I obviously didn’t get, because what did I get my wife last year for Mother’s Day? No, not a microwave, but one of those machines that make seltzer water. I thought it was pretty cool, ’cause it has this canister of compressed air that you slot into it, and when you “seltzer-ize” water — I guess carbonate might be a better word — the machine makes this fantastic noise, like a sick goose is honking up phlegm in your kitchen. Honk, HONK! Neat, right? My wife was less than excited.

“But you love seltzer,” I said. “And now you’ll never have to buy it, or wish we had it around. You can make your own!”

“Brian, it’s an appliance.”

And that, my friends, is how I learned: There are some presents that, no matter how much they make sense to you, are not appropriate for Mother’s Day! So that you don’t make the same mistake I did, I hereby present to you my guide for what NOT to buy that special mom in your life. Disregard this advice at your own peril!

  • Microwave ovens are a definite no-no! 1 of 9
    00_microwave

    Click on to find out what else to avoid...

    Photo via Wikimedia Commons

  • Anything With a Motor 2 of 9
    01_motor2

    Unless you're buying her a new car, anything that has a motor is going to be a device that has something to do with work — a washing machine, an ice cream maker, an electric can opener. This is a whole area of gadgets you want to avoid. And no, for all you dirty birds out there, motorized toys for her pleasure are not appropriate for Mother's Day. This day is about her as a caregiver who deserves gratitude and indulging, it's not about her... you know.

    Photo via Wikimedia Commons

  • A Healthy Cook Book 3 of 9
    02_cookbook4

    This comes loaded with messages, from "get back into the kitchen" to "you need to cook healthy because, well, look at those hips." I know, I know: you're only thinking of her and her health and how she always wants to be eating healthier. But really, friend, you're about to enter a world of pain. Just back away from the cookbook section. Let her girlfriends get her a cookbook for her birthday or something, don't even go there.

    Photo via Barnes & Noble

  • A Bowling Ball 4 of 9
    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    Even if she's into bowling, no. Buy her a few free frames at the local lanes or something. Because you see a big heavy ball and automatically think of a chain. It's an anchor, a weight, it's... a bowling ball. Go back to the drawing board, dude. 

    Photo via Wikimedia Commons

  • A Crock Pot 5 of 9
    04_crockpot

    This one should be obvious, right? Because it's an appliance. But also include in this category a set of dishes, silverware, a nice plate, or even a fancy set of hand-carved wooden salad tongs. These are things for the family, not for her. And besides, they're not much fun, right? It's like the equivalent of getting a tie for your birthday, or socks. Borrrring.

    Photo via Flickr

  • Literature 6 of 9
    The new cover for The Bell Jar

    So she likes escaping into a book, and you figure you'll get her a fun novel to read at night after the kids are asleep? Tread carefully. If you get her something too light and fluffy she'll think you're insulting her intelligence. Go for a dark, complicated tale, and you're just giving her more work to do. Plus, some of this stuff is just not happy reading for moms. The Bell Jar, for example. Anything by A.M. Homes, or Joyce Carol Oates. This might sound easy to avoid, but do you know how many novels Joyce Carol Oates has written? A lot.

    Photo via Black Book

  • A Pet 7 of 9
    06_pet

    She's always wanted a puppy, right? Or a kitten? Or maybe even a Burmese python. (Though, honestly, a python? What?) Whatever the case, adding to the load of dependent creatures around the house that depend on her for care is NOT a gift, it's more work. Might as well throw a Mother's Day party too, and ask her to organize and then clean up after it. Uncool.

    Photo via Wikimedia Commons

  • Lingerie 8 of 9
    07_lingerie

    I know what you're thinking here — she'll love looking sexy in this new nightie, and it'll really spice up your love life. Your heart is in the right place, but really, this is more a present for you. Because what this really says is, at worst: You're not sexy enough as is, in those flannel pajama bottoms and ripped tank top you've been wearing for the past eight years. And at best the message is: put this on and prance around for me. I said, prance, woman!

    Either way, lingerie is a fail. She's been working hard, she's an engaged mother, and now she has to look pretty for you too? This is more of a Father's Day present, really.

    Photo via Flickr

  • Nothing 9 of 9
    08_nada

    At least a present that misses the mark is still a present. Don't forget! Sunday, May 12th is Mother's Day.

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