Want to avoid a recession? Get knocked up (or knock someone up), and go shopping!

Just when I think I know every hare-brained excuse the gift industry can conjure up for women to wrest some bauble from their guilt-ridden mates, I'm hit with the most absurd, over-the-top example of consumerism on steroids yet. It's not enough we have Valentine's Day, birthdays, anniversaries, special anniversaries signified by some arbitrary number and the endless holidays associated with the month of December; now we learn some women are demanding a "push present."

What's a "push present," you ask? Well, it's kinda like paying for sex, except in this case, it's paying--with a pricey trinket--for a woman not to put out, but to push out--a baby. Yep, it's exactly what you think it is: a gift for "enduring" the "burden" of pregnancy and childbirth.

Oh puhleeeze.

Makes you wonder why some of these Tucson foothill matrons and New York Fifth Avenue types even bother getting pregnant. If carrying a baby is such an onerous task, why not hire out some nubile young thing to do it instead? Extract an egg or two; put it in a petri dish; whisk in some semen; place the blastic concoction in a waiting surrogate womb; and voila! In nine months' time, out pops baby, and egg-mommy's waistline need not suffer the indignity of roundness.

Though it does seem a tad unfair that mothers are the only ones currently earning gifts for the trials and tribulations of giving birth. After all, since males contribute to the process, it seems equitable they should be entitled to a wee something as well. How about for every successful impregnation, future fathers earn their own reward in honor of the one lucky sperm that manages to defy the odds, swim upstream and elbow its pesky sperm brothers out of the way to finally reach sperm nirvana: a waiting egg pulsing with expectation?

Moms couldn't demand a present for something that's been going on forever and is as much a part of the natural cycle as eating (followed by defecation) if men didn't make their own sacrifices. These days, what with toxins as common as air and God-knows-what all in our food and water, it takes a conscious effort to keep that sperm both potent and motile. So cut the guys a break, and acknowledge their part in the business of baby-making by making "potency presents" as much a part of the blessed event as mothers' push presents.

And while we're at it, since being a parent of a newborn is so taxing, why not make gifts part of the package, so to speak? Let's acknowledge those late-night feedings and endless poopy diapers with proper tokens of appreciation. The parent who performs the most diaper duty in any given week is entitled to whatever gift the couple agrees on. And women who nurse (is it possible to nurse if you've had tit work?) are entitled to copious streams of presents: say, one present for every pound the little bugger gains.

With parenthood come milestones: first tooth, first word, first formed stool, first ... well, you get the idea: an endless series of "firsts." It's surely a crime to let all these firsts go by with merely a few words scribbled in the de rigueur "Baby's First Year" book.

Each first deserves to be honored with a suitable gift: say, a new pair of shoes for baby's initial steps--for the mother, not the baby. In fact, there are so many firsts in a baby's life that parents may find themselves spending more time shopping for presents than actually caring for their bundle of joy.

Of course, all this gifting offers potential problems if there are siblings on the scene. In order to avoid the expense and heartbreak of years spent in therapy because they feel forlorn and forgotten in the frenzy surrounding the newborn, weekly gifts for older children are a necessity.

And what better way to make them feel special than by including them in all shopping expeditions? Not only will the kids feel important (vital to future self-esteem), but parents who shop with their children are providing vital role models critical to the future of the economy.

Speaking of the economy: I must apologize. Little did I realize when I set out to write this column how vitally important push presents and potency presents are to the well-being not merely of mothers and fathers, but to the very economic fabric of our society. Maybe, just maybe, with enough women (and men) demanding their due, we might be able to avoid a recession, untangle the mortgage mess and put people back to work. All it takes is a little push.

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