The Emperor's New Clothes (10/03/13)

The main thing on Mother's Day is to buy a gift. Not so, says Katy Guest, who has something more precious in mind

Mums are officially more beloved than dads, according to a new survey by a shopping website. The average spend on Mother's Day gifts is £30 per mother; on Father's Day, it is only a tenner.

To people who measure love in hard currency, this obviously means that men are badly done by. But really they should feel lucky.

The top five gifts for mothers, according to VoucherCodesPro.co.uk, are flowers, chocolates, alcohol, beauty treatments or just a card. But a quick look at a "gifts for her" website shows that these come in a baffling array of guises. Just one website last week was suggesting Mother's Day presents including: a teaspoon with "one in a million" written on it (£12.99); a set of three bath "melts" in the shape of fairy cakes (£10.99); "macaroons" mini notelets (£9.99); and a battery operated pedicure machine (£39.99).

The presents that aren't chocolate mostly imply that your poor old mum is in need of a wash, and if they're not recognisable as some form of soap then they are usually bizarre and vaguely insulting. Ask yourself: would you want to receive one of these? Does your mum?

What websites such as these do is take our money to appease our guilt. It's helpful to believe that the most loving thing you can do for your mum is to spend £30 on a bunch of flowers and a mug with "Keep Calm and … [something]" written on it. Their message is beguiling. It says, "What every woman really wants is a long hot bath with a melty bit of fairy soap in it, not your time or attention." It says that Mother's Day is about throwing money at a problem. And it's even better if you can beg your mum for a little handout when you find yourself short of a few bob (say £30) at the end of the month.

So, sorry to the website which has done the hard research, but how about not buying chocolates, beauty treatments or "Keep Calm and Have a Bath" propaganda for your mum today? Why not give her a ring? Or go and see her? Go on – you can always tap her for the train fare later.

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