Do you express what you want when they ask what you want?

Sigmund Freud once asked the unanswerable question: what does a woman want? What do we want? It seems like such an easy question, but even Santa Claus would run for the hills after I was through with him.

Is that the same for all women? When it comes to special occasions – Mother’s Day, my birthday, valentine’s day, our anniversary, Christmas – I am hit with the inevitable question: What do I want/want to do? I subscribe to the philosophy: if you really love someone, you’ll figure it out.

I ask questions weeks or months in advance and make note of the answers. This way I know what to get my husband for his birthday, for father’s day, and for Christmas. Notice I left out Valentine’s Day and our anniversary… Is it petty of me to think those days should be about the woman? Ok, well maybe Valentine’s Day is, but our anniversary is a day for us to remember why we love each other, to remember how we felt the day we made a vow to each other. Though I still want to be wined and dined, so yes I want to be spoiled on our anniversary.

So what do mothers want? It’s easy to answer with “spend time with my wonderful family,” or “let’s go to brunch,” or whatever else families have been doing for years. Growing up, I believe we took my mom out to brunch, we’d buy her a card and give her flowers. As technology grew and card creation software was developed I would make my mother a unique mother’s day card. It felt better to make something unique instead of buying one of many cards that many moms around town were also going to receive. So what do we want?

My answer is: I don’t know. According to Walter and Rachel Webb of Pioneer Thinking, when asked by your husband or partner what you want, TELL him what you want! It simplifies your life, strengthens your relationship and takes the mystery out of how he can make you happy. Though I believe in this philosophy for every day life, I don’t agree with it for those special occasions when a woman/mother is to be doted on. If I tell my husband exactly what I want for the days specifically marked for me to be doted on just a few days, even the day before, one of those days, I know what I’m going to get! I don’t want to know! It’s not that I want to be surprised, though I do enjoy surprises, but I want to know that I didn’t put the idea in his head five minutes before he does it.

Earlier I said I ask questions weeks or months in advance. I believe this to be helpful. If you ask your wife/girlfriend/partner in advance about something they may want to do, say a weekend away some place special, and she says she would like to do that: MAKE NOTE!!! If you ask in advance about something that caught your eye or an idea that just popped into your head and you get a positive response, make note and gift her with that positive response when it is appropriate.

My husband always says I am the most difficult person to buy or plan for. I admit, I change my mind a lot and I don’t always do the same thing over and over. For instance, we know what to get his mom. She is an avid reader and I believe for every gift giving occasion out there we always give her a gift card to a bookstore. We stopped asking her if she has a specific title or if she would want to try a new genre. She knows what she likes so we just give her the means to get them. This year I wanted to do something different. It’s still a book, but it’s even more special than anything we have given her before, and she will absolutely love it!

So how do I answer that impossible question. Going back to Walter and Rachel Webb, they greatly emphasize to just tell him what I want. And by emphasize I mean they use John Gray – the author of Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus – and his wife as their example. He gets how to make her happy because she told him how to.

Last Spring I took a cultural anthropology course and learned how several cultures view a marriage. In India, nearly all marriages are arranged. Those that are not arranged are viewed as a love match, or in our society: true love. There are so many factors that go into arranging a marriage and it can take a long time before every detail is finalized.

A young American woman of Indian background went to India to research arranged marriages. She had learned so much about how we as Americans view marriage and how Indians view marriage. We have sexualized living so much and have turned our most basic natures as our own arrangements into marriage, whereas a young Indian woman the American had interviewed explained she and her future husband have a lifetime to learn about each other and to fall in love. She went on to explain that if she dates her future husband before they are to be married and learned everything there is to know about him, there would be nothing left to learn. Their culture is about keeping their marriages full of great passion by keeping the mystery alive!

Isn’t that how our grandparent’s and those before them fell in love and kept their passion alive? I mean our culture wasn’t brought up on arranged marriages, but the philosophy was just the same, was it not? Maybe I’m being stereotypical about it as I remember dialogues from movies or books where romances began during WWI or WWII and fifty years later the elderly man tells his young grandson that his grandmother still keeps him on his toes.

Now I’ve been searching on what the proper etiquette is for mother’s day. I’ve only been a mom for two years, so answering this is really hard. I had to go on a hunt for other’s answers on what is acceptable. Obviously I wouldn’t turn down my toddler’s wonderful artwork or those oh-so-amazing cuddles from my infant, but I get these everyday. Now I just sound like a horrid person. “Hey, you give me this everyday. I want something different!” I would never turn down the every day gifts and enjoyments from my family. It would just be nice to have something different in addition to those enjoyments.

So on my hunt, I found three other websites that look to have it right, at least for me anyway. These are helpful for mostly what I, and other moms who agree, do or don’t want.

Lynn Harris wrote Forget Breakfast in Bed! 16 things moms really want for Mother’s Day. I feel like she has it right. “There’s nothing I want less for Mother’s Day than the stuff I’m supposed to want.” I love flowers just as much as the next person/mother, though I wouldn’t turn them down, I would like to not get what other mothers are going to get. I prefer to get flowers as an “I love you” or “just because,” not as a “I couldn’t think of anything else to get you because you are so hard to shop for but I know you would like these because they are a great fall back.” Who is going to say no to flowers? I certainly won’t, and neither will the other hundreds of mothers around town.

Her list is helpful. I am very much contemplating number 2. I just have to pump the breast my baby isn’t feeding from and repeat for a few feedings to enjoy that one.

3: I have all the jewelry I want gifted for a while, but the homemade card, YES PLEASE!

Definitely 4, sans the hot gardener. My hubby is all the hotness I need!

5: she has the right idea as far as donating. I don’t know anything about Mercy Kit’s or Mercy Corps, but I wouldn’t mind all of us donating some of our time to another mom, to make her feel special.

6: I can only accomplish this if my baby would leave me alone for two hours or more. His naps are just a little over an hour and anything more than two hours between feedings happens only at night.

9: Yes! Surprise me with breakfast anywhere but my bed. I never understood the allure of breakfast in bed. When I’m away at a hotel, ok, but in my home I would rather eat my food at the table.

10: If I knew enough moms that would agree to this I would do it. But who out there is going to turn to their family and say, “I’m spending the day with my girlfriends instead of you.” Family time Saturday and girlfriend time Sunday? I’m so for it.

16: Yes! Just some acknowledgement. I mean I cook, I clean, I bite my tongue and hold back the tears when the baby is crying, the toddler is throwing a tantrum and the dog just won’t shut up. “Thank you for everything you do” is all I really want. Isn’t that what mother’s day is all about? The acknowledgment that you’re doing a good job.

Laura Brotherson wrote Better than Chocolate—Give a Mother’s Day Gift from the Heart. This is what I have tried to explain to my husband. I’m crafty and I like giving homemade gifts or a gift I know my husband has really been itching to get his hands on. It was either his first or second father’s day our oldest was involved in making his gift. This is a gift from the heart, when everyone gets together. A “no one-size-fits-all” gift.

Adriel Booker wrote 5 meaningful mothers day gifts under $15. There are some great ideas here. The at-home day spa is only good if he did what she listed, but in addition to learning how to give me a spa day. I think any woman would enjoy the kids going off to a friend’s home and having your husband guide you around your house like your own personal pool boy…without the speedo. I really can’t stand a mankini.

Clean the bathroom and light the scented candles, let them fill the room. Run her a bath with fragrant bath beads or oils. Dress her in a fluffy towel and guide her to this luxurious, one of a kind spa. Learn the proper techniques for applying a facemask, cause we can do this any time but if you do it for us it is so much better. Follow up with that foot massage you read about in intricate detail and finish with a scalp massage and hair brushing. Sorry, not going to let my toddler within a foot of me with a hair brush again. I love him, but my hair is super long and knots easily.

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