There may be several aspects of labor, delivery, and even motherhood that I’m still unsure of, but I do know this: I don’t want a push present. Nope. No, thank you.
Since reaching this conclusion, I’ve quickly found that The Push Present can be a touchy subject, riddled with assumptions. One also-pregnant acquaintance straight-up asked me, “What’s Anthony getting you? Did you drop hints or are you allowing him to surprise you?” (Eek! There’s something unnerving about that particular wording, right?… “Am I allowing him to surprise me?!”) Then, later that week, a few of his well-intentioned female coworkers tried to convince him that even though I saaaaay I don’t want one, I really, really do, so he should probably get on that.
Meanwhile, I am NOT in the business of dividing women, of voluntarily ruffling feathers, of appearing as if I’m passing judgments. (Isn’t living each of our own complicated, ambitious lives challenging enough?) But — thankfully — intelligent adult women don’t have to agree on everything (or even most things) to share fulfilling, gorgeous, long-lasting friendships. In fact, I pride myself of having attracted a circle of strong, independent-thinking, sometimes eccentric, usually outspoken, routinely bada*s female friends who seldom keep their own unique interpretations to themselves (and note I said interpretations, not judgments — because that’s what we should be doing, right? Sharing interpretations, swapping stories, exploring quandaries — not spreading the female friendship circle disease that is JUDGMENT).
Which is to say, some of my outspoken gal pals have already chimed in (and will likely continue to, if pressed), including, but not limited to:
“Abbey, you don’t have to wave the feminist flag on this one.”
“Girl, since when do you pass on an opportunity to acquire jewelry?! Jewelry! You love jewelry.”
And the generic, but valid, “Hon, lighten up.”
And maybe they’re right.
But, nonetheless, I, too, am entitled to my own interpretation of the push present phenomenon, and I’ve returned from some brief contemplation with the resounding conclusion that I absolutely don’t want one.
1. To me, a push present feels/sounds/seems like a trophy, and trophies are presented to mark earned achievements. I don’t consider this an achievement. Professional promotion? Definitely. Graduation? Sure. But having a child? That’s a privilege, a blessing, a hope, a prayer, a gift. I’m not earning something here.
2. There’s no male equivalent. A pal presented a popular pro-push present argument: “You have a sparkly engagement ring and wedding band. How is a push present any different?” Here’s my personal rebuttal: First, an engagement ring/wedding band is a culturally recognized symbol, serving a purpose beyond the bling. But secondly, and more importantly, there’s a male equivalent in this analogy. Though usually waaay less pricey, the other spouse gets a wedding band, too. I like the symmetry, the fairness. After all, just as I entered marriage with an equal partner, I’m entering parenthood with an equal partner.
3. Having a baby is already exorbitantly expensive. Enough said.
4. Some women say (joke? Please tell me this is a joke), that those final brutal pushes are made easier by picturing whatever boxed and bowed goody they’re about to acquire, to which I’m all, “WHAAAAAT?!” Because you’re not more motivated by the idea of seeing your baby’s face for the first time? Or ensuring s/he is a-o-k? Or for the sheer, visceral hope that the miserable labor pains subside? Oh, chickadees, I like pretty stuff — I really, really do — but let’s get real.
5. As an institution and expectation, the push present reads like a way to materialize and monetize something innate and beautiful and universal — something otherwise pure. And there aren’t many things like that left in our lives these days, are there? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-commercialism. Not by a loooong shot. (Remember, this message is brought to you by the humble, lowly writergirl of Hallmark and Lifetime TV movies!) However, in my personal life, I haven’t ached for two dozen red roses each Valentine’s, or those lovely turquoise Tiffany boxes each anniversary, and those Christmas car commercials, you know them, the ones where the model wives prance into the snow-lined driveway to find their dream car wrapped in a fat red bow — I find those gag-worthy. As a reformed tomboy-turned-girly-girl, the sweetest material gifts I’ve ever been given (by Anthony and others) are always somewhat unexpected, somewhat curious, and somewhat creative. If the gift is something more predictable (like yummy dark chocolate or a spray of bright blooms or the best candle on earth), it arrived on a random, otherwise run-of-the-mill kind of day, making the ordinary extraordinary.
And can you think of anything more extraordinary than having a child grow inside you — literally — and then enter the world as a full-fledged human being? I’m pretty sure that day will be quite memorable already.
P.S. And I really, really do mean this: If, at some point, you may show me your glittering push present and I respond with a gushy wide smile, please know there isn’t an iota of fakeness to that. I really do appreciate taking in pretty gems and sparkly baubles that much. xo