Even the name is stupid. I don’t like saying the words, and I shouldn’t have to because they shouldn’t even exist. Every time I write those words, I want to put quotation marks around them to indicate I don’t agree with this contrived term, but I’m being forced against my will to acknowledge it.
I’m not sure when push presents came into vogue, but it was after the birth of my first child over a decade ago, and I’m pretty sure it had something to do with the Kardashians.
The thing is no one needs a present for birthing a child. You know why? Because the child is the present. After a nerve-wracking nine months of carefully planning, vigilantly protecting, and anxiously awaiting the arrival of your tiny, fragile newborn baby, you actually get the baby. That’s the reward.
The strange thing about the rise of the push present is that childbirth is not a business transaction. The implication of the need to compensate a woman for bearing a child is that she’s just some hired hand, no more than a birthing vessel, contracted to produce a child for a man rather than an equal party to the whole endeavor. That she’s being paid off for a service provided. That the two entered into this union jointly of their own agency out of a love so great it drove them to long for a child of their own gets a little lost.
I’m not saying women don’t deserve appreciation and respect or to be downright worshiped for their singular role in creating, carrying and bringing forth new life because lord knows that’s no small burden, but demanding material goods in exchange for a child seems somehow, I don’t know, grotesque.
This may not be so surprising coming from someone like Kanye’s wife. Kim quite famously announced her desire for a million-dollar diamond choker for the birth of her son. But she’s not the only expectant mother making such demands. The internet is awash with stories of other pseudo-celebrities receiving 10-carat diamond rings or Bentleys or some such equally extravagant and meaningless present, which may not be bad for a day’s work. I just hope they didn’t do it for the gifts.
And now the lifestyles of the rich and idiotic have trickled down into the general population, polluting it. Regular people are trying to wrangle luxury vehicles or at least 1-carat diamond something-or-others out of the birthing experience. Childbirth is one of life’s most miraculous moments. There’s no need to cheapen it by using it as an excuse for material gain.
Instead of push presents, you know what mothers could use? Some help. Babies are a lot of work. I’m sure celebrities don’t have to worry about that, but people who live in the real world do. It would be nice if instead of push presents, women got an equal partner to share in the tremendous work of raising a helpless human being. Of course, many fathers are such partners, but undeniably, even in the 21st century women continue to play the predominant role in caring for and raising children. The mother is primarily the one who stays up nights or does the 2 a.m. feedings or rocks the colicky baby all day or finds the right pediatrician or figures out why the baby’s fussy or researches the preschools or locates the day care. Rather than an expensive trinket to “thank” the mother, a partner who divides the responsibilities equally would be a better and more worthy gift in exchange for the contribution the mother makes, I would say.
When I gave birth to my first child all those years ago, a good friend came to visit us in our Brooklyn apartment. Along with the present for the baby, she brought with her, quite unexpectedly, a gift for me. When I opened it, I found a soft, pink fleece top and comfortable lounge pants inside along with an assortment of scented bath lotions. I was touched. It wasn’t a “reward,” but rather a personal and thoughtful gift that showed I was still valued. I wasn’t forgotten. Amid the clamor and fuss and absorbing demands of a new baby, I mattered, too. It demonstrated an appreciation of me in my new role and of what I was going to need. Those are the kind of gifts I think mothers could use.
Not that a new car or a 10-carat diamond ring wouldn’t be nice, but they kind of miss the mark. Instead, perhaps friends, family and society on the whole could express respect and gratitude for new mothers through useful measures and genuinely supportive actions.