Today, on entertainment news, I heard that the singer Beyoncé recently presented her husband, rapper Jay-Z, with a gigantic sapphire pinkie ring upon the birth of their first child January 7. The commentator laughed and said that “push presents” usually go to the mother, not the father!
Push presents? I wish this concept had been known 18 years ago, when I started having babies. In that case, someone owes me three. Can they be awarded retroactively?
Believe me, I understand the sense that labour is like being on the battlefield. I fought the good fight three times and lived to tell about it. Not everyone does, not even in the twenty-first century. Childbirth changed my body forever, and I will carry the scars for life. They are my battle wounds, and I wear them proudly.
But when people came to offer their congratulations to me in the hospital after the birth of my children, I remember respectfully requesting chocolate (and I thought I was being bold to do that!).
While my friends and family were happy to accommodate me, I had no idea that in a few short years, people (who weren’t even doing the pushing) would be getting expensive pinkie rings just for standing around watching the event.
We’re just too used to goodie bags. Such a thing didn’t exist when I attended my share of birthday parties as a kid. The party was for the birthday boy or girl, not for me. I was a guest: please bring a present, eat cake, pretend you like games and then go home, thank you very much. And make sure you buy something the kid likes, or you’ll hear about it.
Now, everybody gets presents at a birthday party, which is often held, by the way, at an expensive birthday venue. Cinema parties, public pool parties, amusement park parties.
And movie stars get goodie bags for going to a film festival or an awards ceremony. “Thank you for showing up…you came in and smiled, you tipped your hat, you looked great in your suit. Here’s some expensive cream and a new mobile phone. We hope you’ll promote them.”
I suppose sapphire pinkie rings are just for the wealthy at the moment, but such trends trickle down and I wonder if in the near future I will be asked to contribute to a push present fund for my younger women friends who are just starting their families? Does the push present party occur after the baby shower? Do we buy the proud father a commemorative gift, too? The thanks-for-standing-here-while-she-squeezed-your-hand-too-tight gift?
This concept of rewarding a natural process with an extravagant gift to mark the occasion seems like one more example of a hugely entitled generation who don’t really understand that suffering is part of life. “Woo-hoo, I went into labour, and it really hurt…buy me an expensive present!” Should we expect to be paid for such experiences?
Women have been grunting, screaming, moaning, vomiting and bearing down since the beginning of time, and until a science-fictionish way to grow babies outside our bodies becomes commonplace, we’ll keep doing it.
But we’ll survive. And we’ll eat chocolate. No pinkie rings required.