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An Open Letter to Dads

Photograph by Getty Images

Dear Well-Intentioned Male Breeders,

Mother’s Day is upon us! Yippee. If you’re like my husband, it’s taken you since the last Mother’s Day to recover. That’s because you made a cardinal error, one you should never make again. When you asked your wife, “What do you want to do on Mother’s Day?” and she responded, “Nothing special. Just being with all of you is enough for me,” you believed her. This, my friend, was a very stupid thing to do.

Likewise, when you sheepishly asked her, “Are we doing gifts this year for Mother’s Day?” and she responded, “With a great family like this, there’s nothing I need. How 'bout just a card?” you believed her. Again, stupid thing to do.

Because when she said she didn’t need anything and didn’t want to do anything special for Mother’s Day, she was lying! What she was really saying was, “I gave them life. Now give me a bracelet.” She just doesn’t want to have to ask for it. You’re supposed to know what she’s not telling you. Yes, moms expect telepathy and a new handbag.

And before you go thinking that moms are secretly greedy grifters trying to milk every holiday for what it’s worth, think again. Remember the last time you got up during the night for the baby? Or had puke on your shoes because the middle kid hurled toward you despite you encouraging the opposite? Remember when the oldest one fell down and called, “Daddy?” and you dropped everything to help? Right, me neither.

Mother’s Day is like a mommy battery recharge, but with a facial and really great glass of wine.

No matter how good or involved the dad, he still can’t replace mommy. No kid falls down, skins his knee and calls, “Daddy!” No matter what, kids always want their mommy. And—as lovely as that is—it’s also a bit draining, exhausting and a big responsibility. It’s easy for a mom to feel tapped out, even unappreciated. Mother’s Day is a chance to make her feel all the love she gives to her family every day. Mother’s Day is like a mommy battery recharge, but with a facial and really great glass of wine.

So to put you out of your misery and save you from sleeping on the couch again this year (and let’s face it, can you survive another Facebook flogging after your wife’s besties get wind of your lack of Mother’s Day’s plans?), I’m going to help you out. This Mother’s Day, here’s what the lady of your life really wants:

1. Don’t ask her if she wants to do anything for Mother’s Day. Assume she does, even if she says the opposite. Unless your gal is allergic to holidays, she wants to be celebrated. For moms that means one day off from being in charge of what everyone does and how they get there. So don’t ask her what she wants to do. And no, you’re not expected to have telepathy but you are expected to pay attention. Plan something she likes to do and make it happen for her.

2. Let Her Sleep In! This does not mean kids poking her in the head saying, “Are you up yet?” Like a marine on the ready, you should be awake, even dressed, when the kids start to stir. With the stealth moves of a ninja, when you hear that first kid chirp, you’re going to race into their room and entertain them into silence. Ideally, mom won’t even know if the kiddos are up. She’ll be snoozing while you play mom for the morning.

3. Give her me-time. That means you and the kids don’t come, too. There isn’t a mom who's not conflicted every Mother’s Day. Because celebrating mom means the kids celebrating her, but mom might not always want to be with the kids for the whole day that’s supposed to be about her. So when you plan the day out, and you WILL PLAN THE DAY OUT, schedule some time for her to go to her favorite yoga class or pre-book her favorite facialist. Even invite a few of her girlfriends to do the same.

And the rest of the day can be all of you together after your lady takes a nap, catches up on Mob Wives and gets an afternoon mani/pedi. And remember, there is no me-time in you asking, “Mind if I go to the gym?” It’s her day. Suck it up and let her relax.

RELATED: What I Really Want for Mother's Day

4. No, you cook! Unless you’re Wolfgang Puck or Emeril Lagasse, chances are your lady does the bulk of feeding the family. So give her a day off from cooking, groceries and making sure everybody ate but her. And unless your kids are old enough to have a civil meal in a restaurant, remember that when the kids go batshit at the table and run around the restaurant, you’re the one getting up with them. Mom’s busy enjoying her meal!

5. Yes, we are doing presents this year. So you’re on a budget and you went all out for her birthday, Christmas and Valentine’s. She said she’d be happy with a card signed by the kids (that dog print is so cute, too), except she was lying. Ladies like to be appreciated, and that means a gift. It doesn’t have to be expensive (and can be handmade by the kids), but give her something, and not something you bought that day.

6. Let her hold the remote. This will probably be the toughest one for you. But for 364 other days, she endures Pawn Stars with you and the same replay from that basketball game that is over two years old. So today—tonight in particular—let her pick. While you’re putting the kids to bed (and yes, you’re going to put the kids to bed), she’s going to catch up on her DVR and the remote control. And when the kids are safely snoozing, sit down next to her and don’t say, “Ugh, this crap?” Just smile and act like The Real Housewives is really good TV.

Good luck, and remember, Father’s Day is just around the corner!

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