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.



Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Photos of the Crowds That Took Over NYC for the People’s Climate March

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

I Wrote a Novel Envisioning a Nigerian Space Program. Then I Learned Nigeria Actually Has One.

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Sept. 22 2014 11:13 AM Your Own Personal Rand Paul How the libertarian hero makes his foreign policy contradictions disappear.
Business Insider
Sept. 22 2014 9:39 AM Adrian Peterson Has a Terrible Contract, and Cutting Him Would Save the Vikings a Lot of Money
Atlas Obscura
Sept. 22 2014 11:15 AM Avenue of the Baobabs: Madagascar's Magical Upside-Down Trees
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 8:08 AM Slate Voice: “Why Is So Much Honey Clover Honey?” Mike Vuolo shares the story of your honey.
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 11:23 AM Robot Plants Are the Latest in a Long Line of Robot Thingies
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 22 2014 11:23 AM Two Impacts, One Landslide… on Mercury
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.