Mother’s Day minefield: a tricky juggling act for us young dads

Mother's Day used to be a celebration on the calendar I welcomed and enjoyed.

Four years and two (twin) daughters later, and it's become the mother of all days for me and, it seems, many young dads out there faced with the almost-impossible task of pleasing the special lady in their lives while honouring their own great mums on the day.

Sometimes Mother’s Day really is just as simple as a nice breakfast in bed.Credit:niolox

Although we're often treated like clowns in the domestic stakes (see anecdote further down), we actually can't juggle, and so the day (and those preceding it) becomes full of anxiety and hopelessness, knowing either way you will have failed one of them.

My Mother's Day planning starts a week or two out and goes a little something like this…

Me: Honey, it's Mother's Day coming up, let me know what you want to do and if there's anything you'd like (otherwise it'll be the usual: flowers/chocolates/voucher/useless department clothing).
Her: Um, sure, I've started a list. And I just want a nice*, relaxing day (*code word for special day).
Me: Ah cool, well forward me that list as soon as you can so I can get onto it and then plan the day.

A week later, with no further insight from my partner on the plan for the celebration, the exact same conversation occurs and you start to wonder why you're fussing and wasting what mental energy you still have at the end of the day if she doesn't seem that bothered about it.

Before you know it, it's the Monday before Mother's Day and you still haven't got that list, you still don't know what your partner wants to do on Sunday, and you still haven't checked in with your own mother to see what her plans are and what she would like. My partner HAS drafted a present list but, mysteriously, hasn't passed it on, presumably because I'm expected to already know what she wants.

I am in the unfortunate position of having three siblings who don't live in Perth, so the onus is squarely on me as my mother's only son in town to organise a celebration of sorts with her, one that doesn't offend, diminish, or eat into the Mother's Day moment for my partner and our kids.

I thought I was alone in this dilemma, but I'm discovering an abundance of men in the same boat and, to be honest, after four years I'm over it …  and I have it rather easy compared to some. I can only imagine the stress Mother's Day creates for split families and the like.

After an agonising wait I finally get some answers on the Friday … she likes native flowers, wants breakfast in bed, some time alone to read a book and a home-made card (which in truth can take an entire weekend to produce in my manic household).

So I head to our nearest shopping complex on Saturday armed with a few flaky ideas and a few hours under my sleeve (although I was lambasted for not attending my partner's mum's Mother's Day celebration held the same time).

Mother’s Day is a great way to celebrate the deserving mums in this world… but can be a juggle.

I manage to gather a few gifts that I would've loved to have spent more time choosing, get home, then head to a hastily-arranged Saturday afternoon BBQ for my mum with my two daughters in tow.

By the time I get home and get the kids down on Saturday evening, I'm a depressed mess, wondering why I had put myself through it all. My partner has no idea why I'm feeling this way and I fall asleep with no cards from the kiddies and no food for breakfast. I'm screwed!

The next morning I awake to one of my girls calling out for "papa", so she's heeded my words from the night before and not asked for her mum. I get them up in a daze, slap some diced tomato and avocado on toast, fry an egg, percolate some coffee, get the girls to scribble some colours in a card and go wake up their mum for breakfast in bed.

A few photos and food by the beach and some hours of peace for my partner with a trashy magazine, and she's as happy as Larry, despite the daftness of my late-bought gifts and organisation.

A similar tale could've probably been told by the sea of men packed inside our local Chinese take-away that night. No one cooks dinner on Mother's Day night, so it should've been no surprise the restaurant would've been busy on Sunday. The wait for our pick-ups was excruciatingly long. We were all told 40 minutes, yet almost two hours later and our food was still not ready to collect.

The tiny room at the front counter was full of about 20 people (and about 20 goldfish who were lucky not to get eaten), mostly men, on their last duty of the day collecting dinner.

An elderly female diner exits the restaurants and cheekily utters on her way out: "Look at you men, supposed to cooking tonight eh?" I felt like snapping back but I couldn't muster the energy.

Another lady paying her bill looks around at us all surprised, and then says: "Look at all you lovely men, aren't you nice organising dinner." I asked her to spread the word to her female friends that we weren't all that bad. People next to me laughed but I was dead serious.

It's only when I get to work on Monday and have some time to think for myself that I log into Facebook for the first time in yonks and discover my partner had sent me this on the Friday: What multiple mums want for Mother’s Day | 10 things we really want.

I'm proud to say I managed to tick off nine from the list without knowledge, my partner and our kids had a lovely day together, and I had the best sleep in a long, long time on Sunday night.

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