By Sheba Siddiqui @ShebaSid & online: www.shebasiddiqui.com
The first time I ever heard the word push present, I was visiting a girlfriend’s new baby. As I sat down to cuddle her beautiful bundle of joy, she pointed out a tiny blue Tiffany’s jewelry box on the coffee table and told me her baby had given her a gift. It took me a few seconds to register that she was referring to the fact that her husband had gone out and purchased it on behalf of her new baby.
Inside was an exquisite piece of jewelry. My girlfriend had had a pregnancy from hell, so I thought to myself, why shouldn’t she get a present for all the hard work she endured for nine months?
For anyone who doesn’t know, a push present (also known as a slice surprise for someone having a c-section) is a gift that a baby’s father gives to the new mother as a thank you for all the aches and pains she endured during the pregnancy as well as the long, grueling hours of labour.
The roots of a push present date back to India. A woman would be showered with jewelry, a sari or cash – called a Godh Bharai. This ritual has been around for centuries; a woman was not only required to rest after giving birth, but also forbidden from doing any household chores, in fear of her breast milk drying up.
New mothers would often go back to their parents’ homes for 40 days to rest and recover. So who wouldn’t love all of this attention and generosity after going through the most physically painful experience of a mother’s life?
There is something wonderful about receiving a gift from your husband. Whether it be a box of chocolate or a piece of jewelry doesn’t matter. It’s the mystery of a wrapped gift box, for a special occasion or sometimes just because, that can make any wife giddy with excitement.
So, it came as quite a surprise for me when I asked the question of whether a woman agrees with receiving a push present, on my social media outlets. I simply assumed that any woman would love a present for pushing another human being out of her body. It turns out my assumption was incorrect.
Many women, often with multiple children, were insulted at the thought of receiving a push present; the baby IS the present. These mothers believe there is no need for any type of material gift as they already feel so blessed. These women also felt that incorporating a material item into the experience of giving birth takes away from the beauty of it all and misses the point. San Francisco, California’s, Robyn C. said, “I think they are absurd. Whatever ‘gift’ is given is trite in comparison to the event that just took place. I don’t need a piece of jewelry after giving birth. I need a present father/husband.”
On the other hand, there were women who absolutely believed that a present should be given to them after giving birth. Most agreed that it doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, but a thoughtful token of appreciation, ranging from flowers to jewelry to designer handbags, should be given as a sorry and/or thank you for the pain endured.
Many women stated that the jewelry or handbag will eventually be passed down to the child and it’s a great reminder of the birth and baby. Burlington, Ontario’s Aisha Z. believes that this token of love can be passed on for generations to come.
She said, “Both times I received jewelry and when I wear them, it reminds me of each precious child. My mom got them from my dad as well (jewelry also), and when she passed, she left each child the jewelry she got when we were born. I cherish it.”
It seems that people are divided when it comes to the idea of a push present. While many find it insulting, others believe it is a must.
I say do what feels right. If you want a present, aside from baby, at the end of the nine months, ask for one (or at least hint at it). Don’t assume he’ll know. You may set yourself up for disappointment.
If you think the idea is absurd, be clear about that as well. Let your partner know you don’t believe in the concept and forbid present purchasing of any kind. Whatever you choose to do, discuss it long before baby arrives to avoid any confusion on the subject.
DO YOU BELIEVE IN PUSH PRESENTS? DID YOU GET ONE? IF NOT, WERE YOU DISAPPOINTED?
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I think it is a nice symbolic gesture as long as no materialistic intentions are placed behind it and that totally depends on the couple themselves. Whatever the gift maybe if it is celebrated privately between the new parents it will protect the purity of the gesture esp from the pressure to show off and compare with other moms. This will also not trivialize the birth by putting a “payment received” tag on it which I believe some people feel it does. Again it all goes back to the individual couple! I had no idea about this myself until I was about to pop but I did get jewelery which I showed my parents but other than that it was never made public and it is something I will treasure forever.
I love the history here. The roots of the tradition are completely contradictory to the way push presents are portrayed in the media. When the public only sees the obscene lavishness of celebrities, it’s understandable why people would turn their nose to the gift giving occasion. Some examples are jewelry in excess of $30,000 and expensive cars. I think if a push present is done correctly, both unexpectedly (not demanded) and fiscally responsible, then it can be an amazing gesture of affection. I’m talking something as sentimental as a hand-written note or extra house duties (similar to the 40 days of rest). The overboard celebrity bling misinterprets a great opportunity to invest in a relationship that is about to get crazier with kids. I love the heirloom idea too. By doing so, the parents are setting an example of how to treat each in front of the kids. My assumption is that gesture doesn’t go unnoticed and will be reciprocated across many generations.