Not long ago, I overheard some fellow moms talking about push presents as they tended to their children on the playground.
Their conversation started innocuously enough – in reference to the extravagant gift Kim Kardashian received for having her second baby – and migrated to the concept of push presents in general. As I eavesdropped, I noticed my heart beating faster and a tingly tension flooding my limbs. I was becoming defensive – not because I'm a fan of the Kardashians or even because I have two push presents of my own.
My anger stemmed from the reasons these women were using to denounce them. When I peeled back their criticisms, all I found were old-fashioned assumptions about how a woman should act, and these are notions we've been trying to shake for a long time now. What's worse, I'm willing to bet these women didn't even realize how their comments undermined other women.
Nobody needs a push present. It's just materialistic. = Nobody likes a woman who asks for too much.
The offense people take to women wanting something for themselves after accomplishing an amazing feat makes me the angriest. It's this idea that we shouldn't believe we are deserving that holds us back in so many ways. The wage gap, in part, points to women learning to grin and bear it, to be polite and not ask for too much.
Would we expect a surrogate mother to carry a baby for another couple without being compensated for it? Of course not because she is providing an important, demanding, and risky service. When women have babies to grow their own families, our motivation is certainly not to get gifts, and we definitely don't think of it as a service, but that doesn't make it any less important, demanding, or risky. Whether it's diamonds, a massage, or a burger at McDonald's, if a woman wants to commemorate the experience of becoming a mother in a way that's just for her, then no one should question it.
Women have been birthing babies for thousands of years. It doesn't make you special. = We shouldn't glorify women's bodies unless it's for the sexual pleasure of others.
Giving birth does make us special, and it's incredible every single time it happens. We can't take it for granted just because women don't die doing it at the rate they used to (because it still happens) or because it's messy and not arousing to witness. The new mom deserves to be celebrated, and she gets to decide how to do it.
Your new baby is the gift. = Being a mother is every woman's calling; she should be fulfilled by this alone.
Push presents symbolize all that it took to become a mother, a path that is personal and never free of stress or worry. It's a keepsake just for the mom to honor her role in the process, and it's important to keep a sense of ourselves after the baby arrives. I thought Betty Friedan cleared that up back in the 1960s.
Of course having a baby is a gift. Children are more precious than any stone could be, but they come with a lot of strings attached. Diamonds won't make us cry in pain from nursing, lose sleep due to nighttime feedings or cause us to fret when our children are sick. They simply sparkle, reminding us of the intimate and indescribable moments when our children were born. Really, what's so bad about that?
What moms really need is help with the baby and housework. = Women are responsible for all childcare and the household and any help they get is a bonus.
The assumption behind this statement is so old fashioned that I always imagine the person saying it is wearing a top hat and monocle. Of course moms need practical support for a new baby, but this isn't an argument against push presents. Making it one lets their partners off the hook from doing their fair share and flies in the face of the "It takes a village" mantra I hear so much about.
The term "push present" is gross and graphic. = It's taboo for women to talk about their bodies.
Women's bodies are simultaneously subject to ridicule, disgust, lust and objectification. Our bodies aren't good enough as they are, but when we do something downright mind boggling with them, we shouldn't talk about it because it makes some people uncomfortable.
I suppose calling these types of gifts Mommy Mementos or Baby Baubles would be more appealing to some people's ears, but I'll stick with push presents because that term has already been cleaned up for public consumption. Otherwise, we'd call it a "I Pushed a Human Out of My Vagina" present.
The name excludes women who became mothers in other ways. Yep. It does, and, actually, the women at the playground didn't bring up this argument of inclusion, but I want to talk about it. I invite those of you who became mothers via C-section, surrogacy, adoption, or any other means to get gifts, if you want them, and call them whatever you want.
Surgeries, procedures, paperwork, the waiting and the stress is as valid a way to become a mother as pushing a baby out the old fashioned way. Since this isn't my experience, though, it's not my place to think of a name. Let me know what you come up with, and I'll support you.
So enough with the push present bashing. At best, it's a petty criticism of another woman. At worst, it's perpetuating outdated expectations about how a woman should act. Don't get a push present if you don't want one. Stop looking at the Instagram images of celebrities who flaunt theirs, and turn away when the sparkle of another woman's diamonds glares in your eyes. At the end of the day, it's not affecting your life if someone has a little extra bling in theirs, but it affects all of us when you unwittingly undermine other women.