(...)However, I'm a little confused about doing things for your wife on Mother's Day. Your wife isn't your mother. Your wife is your kids' mother. A man should appreciate his mother on Mother's Day; it isn't a generic appreciation of "everyone's mothers".
How do I know this? Ladies, ask yourself if you'd be terribly offended if your husband bought a present or did something special for some mother that wasn't you or your in-laws on Mother's Day. If Mother's Day is an appreciation of all mothers, there would be nothing wrong with your husbands taking their secretaries out to a nice dinner, provided their secretaries had children.
Of course, that is absurd and ridiculous in every way imaginable. But if Mother's Day isn't confined to a particular mother, a man could be obliged to do something for every mother in, say, his own family. That is less absurd, but it would lead to ludicrous results if your husband had, say, three sisters who were married with children.
And that's how you know Mother's Day is confined to honoring a particular mother, your own, and not someone else's mother (which is your wife, your sister with kids, or a random woman with children.)
This is a point that gentlemen commonly bring up on Mother's Day. The question, "Why should I have to do anything for my wife? She's not my mother..." is asked rather frequently, though not usually with as much detail as this gentleman offers.
The answer is simple, of course, but like all blindingly simple things it can miss the line of sight of those who are looking straight at it. So, to be helpful, I'll break it down into a few separate components:
1. It is true that your wife is not your mother; she is the mother of your children. However, saying that your wife is your kids' mother is not the same order of thing as saying your sister is your nieces' and nephews' mother or that your secretary is her children's mother--not in the least! Your wife is a mother because of you. It is you who, either by participating in the creative will of God through the marriage act or by the equally loving act of adoption, in cooperation with your wife and her generous love, made it possible for your wife to add to her wifely vocation the vocation of motherhood. Those "kids" who call her "Mother" are not needy little strangers who mysteriously showed up to compete with you for your wife's attention and affection, even though I know far too many Catholic gentlemen who act as though this is somehow the case. Those children are your doing; they may even, on days when they have been especially naughty, be thought of (humorously, of course) as your fault.
2. Saying, "Oh, but my wife is my kids' mother, therefore I shouldn't have to celebrate Mother's Day with her," is really saying two things. The first thing is that you somehow see no need to honor your wife for her vocation of motherhood, even though without your participation she would not be living this vocation. The second is that you expect your children to rise to the occasion and demonstrate for your wife all the honor, respect, and appreciation she deserves--even though you don't plan to give them an example of that honor, respect, or appreciation, and even though in a practical sense they may still be too young to cook her a meal, buy her a card or gift, or provide her with any token of that honor, respect, or appreciation at all.
3. The comment, "A man should appreciate his mother on Mother's Day," is a fine sentiment, and yes, a man should do that. But who usually takes care of that appreciation? Perhaps there are a few men out there who, sometime in mid-April, pick up the phone, call their mothers, make plans to go out to brunch or dinner or invite Mom over for a meal, go shopping for a card and a gift, and then, if the "meal at home" option is chosen, spend the second Sunday in May (after Mass, of course) cooking a delicious meal for Mom to come over and enjoy. I have heard rumors, anyway, that paragons like that exist. But most of the gentlemen of my acquaintance "take care" of Mother's Day by asking their wives, approximately three days before the occasion, "Did you buy/send my mom a gift?" and then, if Mom lives in the area, they might inquire further as to what plans have been made for the day. I know plenty of women who spend Mother's Day not only taking care of their own children's needs, but also hosting a party for their own mothers, for their mothers-in-law, or both--and the attitude that her husband need not provide her with so much as a card telling her that he appreciates the job she is doing mothering their children is particularly galling in those circumstances.
4. Despite what I have written in 1-3, I can still see some gentlemen shrugging and saying to themselves, "But Mother's Day is about my mom. I do nice things for my wife on romantic occasions like Valentine's Day, when I can appreciate her as my romantic partner without having to think about the "children" part of the equation. So I'm off the hook, and should just celebrate Mother's Day by giving my mother the card and gift my wife bought for me to give her." If a gentleman persists in thinking of the holiday in this way, then I feel it only fair to warn him that there may be consequences. In fact, a woman whose husband thinks this way has every right, in my opinion, to do the following two things:
a) Answer her husband's question about what she has purchased/planned for his mother with a blank stare. "I didn't do anything. I bought my own mother a gift, and I'm going out for lunch and some fun shopping with her on Mother's Day. I figured you'd make your own plans for your mother--she's your mother, after all, and Mother's Day is all about honoring your own mother only, as you always say. Oh, here's the number of the babysitter I usually call, in case your mom doesn't want to come and watch the kids with you."
b) Tell him, on Father's Day, "It's Father's Day, which is a day for me to honor my own father. It certainly has nothing to do with you. I'm going golfing with my dad. Did you make plans with yours? No? Then I guess you won't mind fixing supper for the kids--Dad and I might not get back until late."
Now, I wouldn't really counsel any woman to act so selfishly. But then, I wouldn't counsel any man to act so selfishly, either.