Traditional etiquette suggests, never demands, that certain life occasions call for gifts. Presents, of course are never mandatory, but let’s be real: attending a birthday party, wedding or shower typically means bringing a gift.
Modern twists continue to shape protocol (diamond solitaire engagement rings are a relatively new phenomena, for example) on what items mark various occasions. The concept of the “push present” is yet another shining example.
Notionally, I get it. A proud new father witnesses the love of his life enduring the miracle of birth and wants to give her something nice for her hardship/efforts/bravery/magic. But are push presents now a thing? Hollywood says so. Jessica Simpson was lavished by her baby’s daddy with a collection of bespoke jewelry. Rachel Zoe’s husband Rodger Bermann gave her a 10 carat diamond ring after the arrival of their son. Nicole Kidman was treated to a Cartier Trinity dazzler to mark the birth of their daughter. Marc Anthony bestowed his now ex Jennifer Lopez a canary yellow diamond ring rumoured to be worth more than $300,000 after their twins were born.
All of this got me thinking — once I was able to move past the awful moniker of “push present” — so I undertook a national scientific study* (*asked my followers on Twitter). I was surprised by the discussions it sparked.
Marc Rigaux, about to be a first-time father any day now, feels the push present is akin to a food craving. “I think there is a nine month window where women can tell men anything and we have to believe them.”
JJ Thompson, proud papa to two cuties says, “personally, not my thing. The best gift a father can give is agreeing with everything, listening to instructions and changing diapers.”
The phenomena is apparently bona fide for Manhattan moms. New York-based photographer Michael Williams says push presents are “definitely a real thing. Pretty much every woman I know has either been given a push present, or given themselves one.” And in keeping with this, he treated his wife to a luxe handbag before their son came along.
Not yet a mom, but with a bun in the oven, Nicole Paara had absolutely no idea what a push present was. “Is that present a beer? A glass of wine? A high five? Or are we talking diamonds? This is a foreign concept to me, though I must say some kind of treat (other than that beautiful baby you just went through hell to push out of your body) I’m sure would go over well with any exhausted, emotional, hormonal woman.” She does offer a small caveat, that “though I wouldn’t turn my nose up at jewelery, I’d suggest sticking to anything that can be worn even with swollen joints.” Smart woman.
Marsha Mowers, mother of a handsome little devil, shared a similar sentiment: “The thought of being rewarded for giving birth to my child never even crossed my mind when I was pregnant. A day of relaxation a few weeks later at a spa to help me feel like a semi-normal woman again? Definitely. But a piece of jewelery or some other lavish gift to commemorate the occasion? That seems a bit self-serving to me.”
Megan McChesney, in the final stretch of her first pregancy, has heard some dads-to-be describe it as a nice way to acknowledge all of the hard work that moms-to-be do during pregnancy and delivery. She adds, “I would just hate to see it become one more obligatory present that couples feel they have to indulge in — there is enough to buy when you have a baby on the way.” It may be worth noting, because it is a cute story, that Megan received her push present in advance, a pre-push present, she has dubbed it, in the form of an an Xbox.
The takeaway? It truly is the thought that counts. A gift offered out of a sense of obligation or duty just doesn’t feel as good to give or receive as something that comes from the heart. Even if it is rooted in a bump.
(First published on The Huffington Post Canada, June 2012)