Mother’s Day Is Stupid, but You Should Still Do It Right

Sensible answers to the questions of modern manhood.
May 8 2013 1:08 PM

The New Father’s Guide to Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is stupid, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it right.

Troy Patterson

Photo courtesy of Christopher Bonanos

Please send your questions for publication to (Questions may be edited.)

I need your tips on good first-time Mother's Day gifts.

Thoughts? Do's? Don'ts?

To the letter-writer: Thanks, friend!

To the reader: The Gentleman Scholar did not receive this week’s question in his official capacity as whatever the hell he thinks he is. No, his pigeonhole down at the École Gentilhomme ( is bare but for dust bunnies, iridescent feathers, and a few stray queries about smoking jackets and zoot suits.

Rather, I received the query from an actual friend this time last year. The letter writer was the father of an 11-month-old, and he was asking not just me but a group of old friends about a familiar bourgeois heteronormative nuclear-family type deal: What should he give his wife to honor her large heart and galactopoietic bazongas?


Respondent A confessed that he had never given his wife a single thing for Mother’s Day: “Maybe I'm a lout. My suggestion? Make her an awesome Sunday breakfast, and bake a banana bread.” Then he turned to the topic of his new dining room table: “When should we break the table in with poker at my place?”

Respondent B voted Saturday the 19th for cards.

Respondent C: “Flowers; framed photos; Ambien.”

Respondent D did a kind of email Will Ferrell shtick, gauzily reminiscing about the year he had soft-focus nude photos of himself made for the special lady and stoically revisiting the time he killed a drifter for her entertainment. Then he got serious: He could play cards on the 18th and the most elaborate Mother’s Day gift he’d had dared to purchase for his wife was photos of the kids framed to suit her desk at work. “I fear there's a ratchet effect, so I don't think I've ever gone bigger than that.”

Satisfied with his research, the letter writer stayed mum for a week, then asked, “Any conclusion on cards? I think I can do the 18th.” The 18th had a lot of potential! Respondent A checked with his wife and received unwelcome news: “Yikes, just was reminded that we'll have her old roommate Anna here, with her newborn baby. So ... no poker either the 18th or the 19th.”

Reader, we did eventually play cards at that dining room table. During that evening of poker, just last month, I jogged the minds of the assembled about this exchange, quoting their words back to them and inspiring a follow-up conversation even more frank and more concise than the foregoing. We quickly decided the Mother’s Day is just like Valentine’s Day: It’s stupid.

Don’t argue: It’s stupid. You know who has my back on this? The woman who invented Mother’s Day.



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 11:51 PM Should You Freeze Your Eggs? An egg freezing party is not a great place to find answers to this or other questions.
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.