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Mother’s Day vs. Father’s Day

As we all have come to find, men and women are generally different. Dear reader, I’m not here to prescribe the antidote for the common differences. Just think of me as an unbiased traveler from a far off galaxy just here to observe. I just happen to be a guy from outer space – not Mars, by the way.

Let’s jump right into the hard data and we can circle back to try to understand the perspective holidays of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Before we talk about the gifts, we need to understand how the holidays are perceived by the benefactors of each respective holiday.

First, we could talk about how Anna Jarvis decided to start a Mother’s Day celebration in 1909 in the United States. We would need to mention that the idea of honoring the mother goes back to the early Greeks. They had the government buy the gifts for the mothers. Sorry, Greek friends, that was low. We could discuss how Anna was unhappy about the commercialization of the holiday in the 1920s. We may want to mention about the beginning of Father’s Day by Sonora Dodd in 1910, inspired by the idea of Mother’s Day, and how it never took off until she continued to push in the 1930s and men’s retailers got behind it as a holiday. Nothing says happy father’s day like a new pipe. This is the history of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day we could talk about, but let’s not.

Instead, let’s start with the simple assumption that both parents love their children equally. Then let’s move to the assumption that women are better people than men. Now we’re ready to start our discussion. Mother’s day is a day when the mother gets a breakfast – in fact, both of these holidays are very breakfast dependent. Another similarity is that both holidays allow the holidayer to possibly get a little alone time – maybe even sleep in, if said sleeper can sleep through the din of children fighting. And once those children are old enough not to fight, the sleeper is probably too old to sleep past 7 or 8 am, anyway.

Difference number one starts with the fact that the women usually want to have more of a family day. Men definitely want to do something with their family – they love those children just as much, after all. But then men might also want to mow the lawn or watch a ball game or do something in the garage. Men tend to confuse Father’s Day with their birthday. The problem with this is that sometimes men think of Father’s Day as a possible reason to get lucky.

In short, women are thinking about the children and men are thinking about how they made the children.

Dear women readers, I can hear your cries of foul as I type these groups of words. You’re thinking, “Why can’t us women want to think those thoughts and be all sexy and want just what men want.” Well, relax. I’ll tell you why you can’t.

That morning you wrangled at least one of your kids into some presentable clothes, as your husband stood by mostly fine with whatever they wore (that’s how the gentlemen conserve their energy). You put yourself into a nice outfit – casual and spring-like, with new shoes. The new shoes didn’t quite fit, but they looked so damn good you just made the pain go someplace else. You ate too much at Brunch and got a little buzzed on mimosas. You were brought back to earth by child number two melting down. On the way home, child number one and two fell asleep in the car. You carried the little one, husband carried the big one. You got a chance to do some gardening and planted flowers and raked the boulevard for three hours. Kids woke up. Family goes for a walk around golf course. Family has dinner to wrap up Sunday. You get a delayed cramp in your foot from those damn shoes. Just before bedtime you get a headache from drinking mimosas and not enough water all day. You still feel bloaty from the brunch earlier. You climb into bed in your favorite flannel burka.

Meanwhile, on Father’s Day the man will make sure his shoes are comfortable at all times, because he thinks he may get lucky – because this is his birthday, minus cake and candles. On Father’s Day a father may drink a few too many cocktails and feel bloaty but at the end of the day when the chips are down he will still be weighing his chances and willing to pull it together to get lucky.

So, what to get a mom for Mother’s Day? What to get a dad for Father’s Day? We know it needs to be something that they want to buy for themselves but wouldn’t. Something that’s just about them. Something that excludes the damn kids and spouse they have to deal with on a day to day basis. Generally, mom will like something that will take care of her skin and dad will want something that he can skin himself using. Exfoliant treatment for mom and power sander for dad. Trip to the spa for mom. Trip to the ER for dad.

As I write this, soft spoken reader, I instantly feel great remorse for spreading such grand generalizations. I mean, we may as well step back into the 1960s with the horrible way that I classify and generalize about moms and dads. What about all those mom and moms and dad and dads? Actually, sorry to report – they’re just the same. One going for the exfoliant and one the power sander.

That’s interesting and scientific. It looks like generalizations seem to work for whomever the parent of kids. Maybe this is because no matter what the mother’s day gift or father’s day gift, and how it ends up being about the respective parent, it’s really about something else. The holiday is a band-aid on the hemorrhaging self-inflicted wound called parenting. One day off from the front lines. With a happy truce breakfast with orange juice and champagne, where only occasionally the children have to be reminded to stop fighting and let the Mother/Father enjoy their day of rest.

Sadly yours,

Jason Spafford

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