Based on other aspects of my personality, I feel as though I should be a talented gift-giver. I am not, and it's painfully highlighted during this time of the year. I've tried, but I always feel like my tokens fall just a little bit flat. I've been stressing the last few weeks about how to be a better gifter, asking people what their favorite presents have been over the years, but then I had a thought: "Don't we learn more from mistakes?" So I asked moms to share a gift they received that was a waste, because maybe there's a theme.
In the answers I received, I did notice a few recurring themes--husbands, mothers-in-law, and household appliances to name but a few. It also seemed to me that another big mistake gift-givers make is seeing the other person in relation to themselves instead of considering who they are as an individual. On the one hand, taking the individual into consideration sounds obvious, but on the other, sometimes it's easier said than done: Humans can be a bit self-involved, and not always in an intentional or malicious way. And I feel like women in general and moms in particular are often seen for who they are to others before they're seen for who they are themselves (which is annoying at best and heartbreaking at worst).
I was also mildly comforted in realizing that even if I didn't give breathtaking, life-changing presents to my loved ones, I've never given anything quite as offensive and/or entirely useless as some of these humdingers.
"I got a Little Tikes swing from my husband three years ago. When I asked if it was supposed to be for our daughter, his response was 'I thought you would enjoy pushing her in it.' I enjoyed pushing her in it just about as much as I enjoyed pushing [out] her 9 pound 2 ounce body... "
[I have also pushed out a 9 pound 2 ounce baby: solidarity. Also that present sucks.]
"I got a vacuum one year. Now don’t get me wrong, I am slightly [obsessed] with cleaning and don’t mind vacuuming at all... but it was prefaced with 'This will be a gift that gives back and is for everyone in the house' before opening it."
[Appliances. Are. Not. Gifts.]
"My birthday is February and I was due in June. [My husband] gave me baby outfits for the baby, except they were all clearance items and the wrong size for baby anyway. Like winter stuff for newborn to size three months but I was due in June. Good Times. I forgot all about that."
"Husband got me this shirt folder so I can fold the perfect shirt for him."
"A Roomba for our first Christmas as a married couple. I ruined him for it and def considered if marrying him was the right thing. He said it was because I complained about always having to vacuum up after our cat and I explained the actual solution was for him to vacuum. Now he’s smart enough to get me jewelry and I never vacuum."
"This year my godparents offered to pay to reupholster my four dining room chairs as the fabric is a bit stained and I'm assuming must look disgusting to them?"
[A present should not be insulting!]
"A relative that visits often bought me some towels that in no way matched our stuff and was for our guest room because this person didn't like our towels."
"Things for my kitchen that I did not pick out for myself. A pan that cooks multiple miniature pies? We don't cook pie at my house. A 'self-stir' thingy? Sorry, I don't trust it, so it hasn't ever been taken out of the package. One of the brownie pans that 'every brownie is an edge piece!'? I'm the only one in the house who actually likes the edge pieces. A waffle-iron style 'donut maker'? It does not make donuts that taste like donuts."
"Anything that was purchased at the drug store between 22-24 December."
"My dad buys me hairdryers every year for Christmas. I probably have 10 or so and am expecting another this year... "
"A gift card to Victoria’s Secret. I haven’t shopped there since before I was even having sex and I sure as hell am not going there now after three kids and like 100 pounds heavier, but thanks anyway... Mom."
"My mother-in-law bought me a book about raising boys that had all these misogynist things like 'A wife can run a home so sloppily that her husband seeks out some old cronies at the club as preferable companions' as well as totally homophobic sections about homosexuality being 'unnatural' and 'deviant.' That one went right in the trash."
"One time my grandparents gave me a gift card to a restaurant... that I had given them the night before on Christmas Eve."
"Socks my mother-in-law gifts us. I think it's a tradition or something for them to all give each other socks but... We live in L.A. where we have nine months of summer and three months of fall and I've never once said 'I could use a pair of thicker socks right about now,' and I think they're kind of ugly. There. I said it. Ugly socks."
"My husband asked what I wanted for Christmas. I said 'Honestly someone else to take care of everything.' He said 'Okay a Roomba?' The one chore he consistently does is vacuuming."
[Dude. Misplaced Roombas are low-key destroying marriages left and right during the holidays. Damn.]
"Any piece of clothing my mother in law buys me. She obviously thinks I should dress like her, a 78-year-old woman."
"I got a new kitchen trash can last year. Granted it's a Simple Human, yada yada, but I don't take out the trash. That's his job."
"A onesie. For me. Velour. We are now divorced."
[These four lines are the greatest literature I've ever read in my damn life. Wow.]
"Omaha Steaks... I've been a vegetarian for 20 years, which is more than the entire time she's known me."
"Candles and body wash that smell like food. I want to smell clean, not like a cookie."
"Cookbooks. The internet exists, enough said."
"Pretty much anything I don’t pick out specifically or buy myself."
[Renée did not come here to play, people.]
After experiencing a traumatic c-section, this mother sought out a doula to support her through her second child’s delivery. Watch as that doula helps this mom reclaim the birth she felt robbed of with her first child, in Episode Three of Romper's Doula Diaries, Season Two, below. Visit Bustle Digital Group's YouTube page for more episodes, launching Mondays in December.