There's a whole other meaning to the word "expecting."
At a recent brunch gathering, a very-pregnant acquaintance started telling the table -- mostly for her husband's benefit -- about all the extravagant gifts her friends had received after giving birth. The man nodded amiably if a tad dismissively and changed the topic as the rest of us smiled awkwardly at her shameless campaign.
We all soon discovered that a hormonal lady with a point to make is not easily ignored. Eventually, deciding subtlety was not the route for her, she turned to him with a "You know I'm giving you a baby right? What are you giving me?"
My husband chimed in at this point with some chauvinistic joke and although I chided him in the way that all women are wont to do, I secretly agreed. This mother-to-be was so irritating we actually broke our no-hard-liquor-before-one-pm rule. The very idea of "push presents" sounds too much like a Sex and the City episode gone wrong. Or basically either SATC movie.
Don't get me wrong; there's a great sentiment behind push presents. If a man does something to recognize the emotional and physical stress of carrying a child of his own volition, it's a lovely gesture. But new mothers shouldn't let a trickle-down trend from Hollywood lead them to expect diamonds and sapphires, and new fathers shouldn't feel pressured into giving them.
Putting aside the assumed heteronormativity of this burgeoning trend, push presents show a total confusion of priorities at a critical time. They also imply that pregnancy is a huge inconvenience that women must be compensated for. Oh, you pushed out a baby? Here's your payment. Now get back on that diet and look pretty again. And not to be morbid, but what do husbands give to mothers who lose the baby during childbirth?
This type of warped thinking is furthered by websites such as BabyCenter.com. Linda Murray, its executive editor, notes that "It's more and more an expectation of moms these days that they deserve something for bearing the burden for nine months, getting sick, ruining their body." Ruining their body? Really? Ms. Murray, the only thing getting "ruined" here is everyone's perception of childbirth -- thanks to you.
So where did this "baby bauble" (yes, really) trend come from? It could very well be traced back to increasing assertiveness among women. Because women are doing better than ever in the workforce, taking time off to have a baby could legitimately affect their ability to earn. Of young ladies, 59 per cent say becoming a parent would adversely affect their ability to move up with their career.
But if this is true, how exactly is consumerism a solution? Honey, sorry about your career and that taut body that you'll never have again -- here's a bracelet.
BabyCenter.com also has a theory that the development of this present stems from "increased involvement of the men in pregnancy, making them more informed of the pain and difficulties of pregnancy and labor." How does buying a piece of jewellery -- or buying anything for that matter -- equal increased involvement of men in pregnancy or its associated difficulties? Let's face it, the kind of men who give diamonds and Bentleys probably aren't going to be changing any diapers. We need to stop sending husbands and new fathers the message that their part is over once they hand over a velvet box.
Dads-to-be, you may be surprised to learn that a lot of women do not need to be 'incentivized' through expensive gifts to bear a child. How about for a push present, you be attentive husbands and good fathers? Learn how to change the baby and put him or her to sleep. Offer to look after the baby sometimes so mom can sleep too. If you really want to show you 'get it', you could give up drinking and smoking for nine months, eat healthy and exercise. Just keep in mind that when it comes to push presents, the sentiment is good but the materialism is not.
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