, May 2000

    In the Trenches With Bruce Kluger
    A Father's Day Guide to Mother's Day

    By Bruce Kluger

    Mother’s Day isn’t as easy to celebrate as it
    used to be, at least for those who are doing
    the honoring. Gone are the days when the
    lady of the house was chief cook and bottle-
    washer, and therefore expected little more
    than, say, a bunch of daisies and a new mop.

    On the contrary, today’s mom is everything
    from caretaker and business woman to
    spouse and schedule-juggler—the ultimate
    multi-tasker—and it’s up to us, the dads, to
    honor her on this day for all of her various

    Paying proper tribute to the mother of your kids is as important to your relationship
    with her as remembering your anniversary (and we all know what happens if you
    forget that). Here, then, are five indispensable tips to keep in mind every time the
    second Sunday in May rolls around.

    Old-fashioned still works. Even if she wears DKNY, carries a Day-Timer and can
    whip you in hand-ball, the mother of your child stills appreciates good, old-
    fashioned romance, and today is your opportunity to hit all the right marks.
    Whatever else you have in store for her on this occasion (and there should be a
    lot), it must include the holy trinity of romance: breakfast in bed (with destroying the
    kitchen), flowers (preferably roses, no less than three) and a card with a softy
    sentiment (yours, not Hallmark’s). Starting the day without any of these puts you in
    the doghouse—deservedly.

    Let the kids speak for themselves. No matter what gift you settle on for her,
    appending your child’s name to yours on the gift tag won’t cut the mustard. After all,
    your relationship to your wife as co-parent is a completely different animal from
    your child’s connection with his/her mother. Separating these sentiments is not
    hard. Have your kids pick out their own cards for Mom. Better still, start a week
    early and make it into an art project. Even if the child is no older than the milk in
    your refrigerator, a lock of hair taped to an index card next to the words “I love you”
    is something she’ll keep forever.

    Double your workload. Speaking of kids, this is the one day a year where you, as a
    dad, are the sole monarch—the omnipotent ruler of the brood who calls all the
    shots, wipes all the noses, ties all the shoes. This is not to say that your spouse can’
    t parent as she sees fit. But when it comes to those one-thousand-and-one chores
    your find yourself doing for your kids on a daily basis, today it’s two-thousand-and-
    two. And remember, don’t leave it to your wife to remind you that this is her
    nationally mandated day off. Your mantra for the day? “C’mon kids, let’s leave
    Mommy alone....”

    Look back. Since the birth of your first child, you’ve devoted quite a few man-
    hours—and not a small amount of bucks—documenting your parenting adventures
    on film and video. In fact, I bet you have a special cabinet in your home devoted
    solely to this archives, right? Well, this is where all that work pays off. A nice touch
    for Mom on this special day is a visual memory-jogger that reminds her just how
    amazing the journey’s been. Put together a nice little picture book of images that
    reruns her motherhood story from pregnancy to Christmases to birthday parties
    and beyond. Even a slide show with sappy music in the background is OK. Hey, this
    is how Kodak has stayed in business all these years. Get into it.

    Solitude. Once the gifts have been unwrapped, the cards read and the last sip from
    the coffee mug on the bed stand taken, it’s time to start the real Mother’s Day
    celebration—without Mom. That’s right. Although many mothers prefer to spend
    their special day in the company of those people who, year round, remind her that
    parenting is a unique blend of work and pleasure, today it’s up to her whether she
    wants to pal around with her husband and kids, or simply stay at home with a good
    book. In my household, Mother’s Day follows the same pattern every year: a
    morning celebration with Mom, followed by giving her the house to herself for the
    whole day. And what does my wife do with a suddenly empty agenda in front of her?
    Anything she darn well pleases.

    After all, that’s why they call it Mother’s Day.