Mother's Day Gift-Giving Guide: Consider Your Audience

I teach English, so I am always harping on my students to understand the rhetorical situation when writing. In a nutshell, this means that a writer must be aware of his/her audience and the limitations in which he/she is working. For example, if I am writing an essay to persuade a Donald Trump supporter NOT to vote for Donald Trump, I first need to understand why my audience is voting for Donald Trump (Note: I don't need to agree with said reasons, but I have to acknowledge these in an unbiased way in order to reach my audience). Next, I have to consider the limitations here. Do I have unlimited time and pages to write on all the reasons why Trump would make a terrible president? I might...but does my audience have the time to read it all? Probably not, which means that I have to make some deliberate choices about the information I include in my piece.

I think this whole rhetorical situation business can be applied to purchasing a gift for Mother's Day.

When buying a gift for the mom in your life, first consider your audience. The mom in your life may complain a million times over about how terrible her vacuum is, but does she want a new vacuum as her Mother's Day gift? HELL NO. Buy a new vacuum just because your house will benefit from it, but don't you dare try and pass it off as a Mother's Day gift. Moms do a lot for their families, and they want to feel appreciated, especially on Mother's Day. A vacuum doesn't scream appreciation; rather, it confirms her status as housekeeper (even if that is one of her roles), and it's a surefire way to piss her off.

What would the mother in your life appreciate? You'd do well to think about her hobbies and interests when purchasing a gift. However, consider the reality behind these things your mom enjoys. Maybe your mom has an obsession with putting birds on things; should you get her an actual bird? The answer is likely, no. Use discretion when purchasing gifts that reflect her hobbies. Additionally, consider the things the mom in your life does to escape (beyond locking herself in the bathroom to eat ice cream and scroll on Twitter). Does she retreat to a nearby coffee house? Maybe a gift card to indulge her caffeine addiction would be nice. Is she a music lover? Maybe tickets to an upcoming concert or festival (with bands SHE would enjoy) for her and a friend would make her happy. Is she constantly saying she needs a break? Then give her a damn break! Splurge for a hotel room and encourage her to have a solo night away from you and the kids.

Next, consider the limitations surrounding your gift. For example, if you purchase concert tickets, you had better make sure the mom in your life can attend the concert. Do some prep work in advance to make sure there are few limitations surrounding your gift. Giving a gift that can't even be used or will expire before it can be used is a waste of time and could be a source of frustration for the next several months.

Perhaps you are fortunate enough to have a mother in your life who is perfectly fine with telling you what she wants for Mother's Day. Maybe she even emails you the exact link to the very thing she wants. My husband and kids are not that lucky. They have a mom in their life who appreciates spontaneity and surprises...and who does NOT want to pick out her own Mother's Day present. Their mother wants Mother's Day to be a break in making so many choices; she wants her kids and her husband to know her well enough to be able to figure out a gift that would mean something to her. She wants to feel like they've worked hard to come up with something special to reciprocate how hard she's worked for them. Thus, proceed with caution when asking your mother what she wants for Mother's Day.

Moms or mother-figures work hard to care for and love their brood throughout the year. They deserve a bit of love. So this Mother's Day, I encourage you to consider the rhetorical situation surrounding the mom in your life. Consider your audience before purchasing a gift. And for the love, DON'T BUY THE VACUUM.

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