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The Panic of a Mother Just Before Midnight Strikes on Cyber Monday

Email your mom back.

Woman laying in shopping bags Photo:  Denis Doyle/Getty Images

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I don’t know about other people’s moms, but nothing weighs heavier on my mom — not a regular mom, a cool mom — than the purchase of holiday gifts.

The emails start off chill enough a week or two before Black Friday. Something like, Hey sweetie, could you send over your list for Christmas whenever you get a chance? Love you. Then they start getting a little bit more explicit, but still non-threatening: Please send your Christmas list. I like to shop the day after Thanksgiving. Then Thanksgiving comes and goes, and things get real.

Moms know that buying holiday gifts at a discount takes some of the sting out of buying that haul of presents their kids (even the grown ones) come to expect this time of year. Cue correspondences coming in at a higher frequency and in a more desperate tenor.

As Black Friday promotions get traded in for more amorphous weekend sales, and then finally Cyber Monday promotions, the texts slowly feed my guilt. Have you thought about what you want for Christmas? turns into Christmas list now! which becomes I’m not upset, I’m just disappointed.

There are 12 hours left on Cyber Monday, and my mom can see the deals fading away, slowly, painfully. You know I’m trying to give up Diet Coke, but how else do you expect me to deal with this stress?

Things spiral from there. This is a real text I received: It is the best feeling to find out you saved x amount of dollars on a purchase. That's my drug of choice: Finding what you want on sale and free shipping!!

And just to jab the knife a little deeper, she tells me that one of her favorite things to do is add things to her carts before this sales bonanza and watch as the prices drop come Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Alas, I have robbed my mom of this satisfaction.

Are you shopping for anything today? I ask innocently, naively. No shopping for me. I was waiting for someone I know to send me their list, which they didn't do, she responds. That one hurts. I imagine moms around the globe staring out a window streaked with rain waiting for lists to come in, the clock counting down to midnight when the beautiful carriage of sales turns back into a pumpkin.

But I really do need to go to the store and try on this sweater because I don’t know what size I am. And I really have been busy with work. And I really am out of excuses now.

Finally my mom’s computer sings, You’ve got mail, because a True Mom still uses AOL, and it’s a list. She applies the coupon code and feels, I hope, relief.