To My Wife On Mother’s Day — You Deserve So Much More Than Any Crappy Thing I’ll Buy You At Target

Because a card can only say so much.

happy mothers day to my wife courtesy of the author

As an oblivious husband, you have no idea how much I appreciate Mother’s Day. Yes, it can be a pain, and yes, I have been one of those sad ,desperate men stalking the greeting card aisles of CVS, trying to find a non-cheesy way to express my gratitude at the last possible second, but even with all that, Mother’s Day is still an important holiday to me.

Because my wife gave birth to our daughter. And the best happy Mother's Day to my wife is to appreciate that.


That shouldn’t be a particularly revolutionary statement. I live with the reality of that moment every day of my life, but... damn. That happened. That seismic, earth-shattering event HAPPENED in my life and I don’t think I’ve ever been the same.

And then, not only did my wife give birth to my daughter, she raised her. I mean, I help. I help a lot. But my badass wife brought a life into this world and then taught me by example how to nurture, support, and defend our daughter in ways I might never fully appreciate.


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Appreciation — THAT is why I love Mother’s Day. Because life is hard and exhausting and I forget. I forget to take the occasional quiet moment, look over at my wife, and say, “Thank you.”

So, because this is the holiday that reminds me to appreciate what I have been so generously given, here are 5 things I want my wife to know this Mother’s Day. Because it's more than just wishing a Happy Mother's Day to my wife.

1. It’s easier for me than it is for you.


That sucks, right? And you know how much I love being self-righteous, so I wish this wasn’t true, but it is. In our family's reality  which is different for everyone  but, in our reality, it’s way easier being a dad than a mom.

When I’ve taken our daughter out to lunch, I’ve had complete strangers coo over us and tell me, out of nowhere with nothing to back it up, that I’m a great dad. I realize this has NEVER happened to you. Because you’re a mom. And moms are expected to care for their kids (“it’s your job!”). And dads? Well, the expectations are lower.

I know we know a lot of tremendous dads, even single dads who work harder than I can ever imagine, but for you and me, though I hate to admit it... yeah, you have it harder.

2. You’re actually the fun one.


I have somehow fallen into the stereotypical role of the “permissive parent.” People look at us and think, “Oh, he probably lets her get away with everything” and while there’s some truth to that, you don’t get nearly enough credit for being, in my opinion, the really fun parent.

Who first came up with the idea for milkshakes for breakfast? Not me. Who started the tradition of post-bath tango dancing? Not me. Who plans the majority of our trips, introducing our daughter to cities around the country, even if it’s just us tagging along with you on a work conference, allowing us to explore while you sit in a convention center all day? Yep, it’s you.

So, yes, I’m a big dumb guy with a lot of toys on his desk, but don’t let the outside stuff fool you — YOU are the fun one.

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3. I don’t envy what you’ve got coming.

Our daughter starts middle school next year, which means she’s almost a teenager, which means YIKES. We know it’s coming. Puberty, angst, teenager-ism. We’re going to have to present a united front to survive this together, but we have a girl, so... yeah, you’re going to get the worst of it.

You’re going to get the weird mother-daughter tension, you’ll have to explain the body-changing stuff in intimately personal ways that my dumb textbook knowledge can never compete with, you’re going to see all your best and worst qualities reflected in our girl, whether they’re really there or not.


So, before that all starts, let me just say pre-emptively: thank you and I’m sorry.

4. I copy you all the time.

It’s true. I hate admitting it. But you are the “J” in my “WWJD.”

When presented with a new parenting situation, I am constantly asking myself what would you do in my place. Yes, some of that comes from my desire to not get yelled at when you ask me, “Well, why did you do that?!” after the fact, but the main thing that drives that impulse is that I respect the hell out of you and you’re my parenting role model.


So, thanks a lot, J.

5. I don’t know what to get you for Mother’s Day.

I don’t. No idea. What do I give you that will adequately acknowledge what you’ve done for my life? How do I show you in any way how much you taking on the role of “mother” to our child means to me?


I could buy you something super-expensive, but we have a joint checking account, so really you’d be buying that for yourself. And our house already is filled with pictures and tchotchkes and handmade gifts. So yeah. I’m at a loss.

We can do a dinner out, I could plan a trip, but, really, will it be enough? CAN IT be enough? I don’t know how to express my profound gratitude to you in gifts anymore, but that doesn’t mean I’m not grateful. I am, I am, I am.

But please don’t judge my admiration and desperate, clingy love for you this Mother’s Day by whatever lame widget I end up buying for you at Target this year. You’re worth so much more to me — and our daughter  and that’s what I want you to know this Mother’s Day. (So, if that gets me off the hook for my crappy gift, let me know, OK?)

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Tom Burns is a husband, a dad, and a veteran of the educational publishing industry, living just outside of Detroit Rock City. After years of obsessing about what his daughter was reading, he founded, a website devoted to helping parents find the right books for their kids.​