I only became acquainted with the concept of a push present within the past year or so. I stumbled across the concept on a blog I read.
For those of you unfamiliar, a push present is traditionally a gift a man gives a woman after she gives birth to their child. It’s a reward for carrying the baby around and then pushing it out.
I was flabbergasted when I first read about this. Maybe it’s because I’m a Yankee and this is a Southern thing. (Is it a Southern thing? It feels like a Southern thing.) Or maybe it’s because I haven’t pushed a screaming child out of my hoo-ha. I honestly thought this was a joke, or must be something particular to this blogger’s family. But no — I read through the comments and all these other women were chiming in and discussing appropriate push presents.
Another blogger is about to push another member of the child army out of her womb, and she created a short wishlist for her husband. It’s full of expensive little trinkets, and he’s expected to select one of them for her push present. Forget Santa – it’s time for the commercialization of the Push Present Stork, who drops off your baby but more importantly, drops you off something shiny and expensive! According to Wikipedia, some stores even allow you to create a push present registry.
Women like to complain that society portrays them as materialistic harpies. How exactly does something like a push present help to dispel this notion?
Let’s do a quick catalog of all the things women/mothers already get presents for: bridal showers, baby showers, birthdays, Christmas (or major holiday of your choosing), Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and wedding or other anniversary. That’s already a lot of presents. And now we’re adding a gift simply because women got the short end of the stick when the world was deciding who got to carry the baby around?
The argument for push presents centers around the physical toll having a baby takes on a woman. There’s the raging hormones, the weight gain, the stretch marks, and then the actually birthing process. Fair enough — no one ever said being pregnant and giving birth is easy. But isn’t the baby enough of a gift? Isn’t a family (or a bigger family) the real present?
Even though men don’t actually carry the baby, they have to deal with pregnant women for nine months. They have to deal with the cravings, the crazy hormones. They’re usually sitting with the woman while she crushes every bone in his hand and deafens him with her screams of pain. Society has instructed men that they must always defer to pregnant women, in all situations – even if the pregnant woman is a complete stranger.
But it’s the sense of entitlement that permeates the very concept of the push present that disgusts me the most. Are the women unaware of what they’re about to put themselves, their bodies, and everyone around them through when they get pregnant? And if they didn’t, would that somehow change things?
When did women (and society) lose sight of what is really important? According to the CDC, approximately 10% of women in the US have difficulty becoming or staying pregnant. Babies are miscarried, stillborn. Children arrive with birth defects. Some may live only a few hours or days or weeks.
Kind of makes all that whining about push presents a little trivial.