Is your mum a MBAG (mother bearing agenda gifts)?

Some people don’t get on with their mothers. Their relationship is complicated at best, fraught and toxic at worst.

Then there are mother daughter relationships that are simple: they are all about love. The good kind of love. It’s natural and easy – most of the time.

But sometimes, even the nicest of mums can turn into a smiling, manipulative cast member from The Real Housewives of Beverley Hills.

It’s your birthday, Christmas, a housewarming, or you’ve just had a bad couple of months and your mum gives you a present.

Does mother know best? Image: Keeping up with the Kardashians/E!

You open it and the card may as well read: I bought you this clothes steamer because I saw you go to work the other day in that wrinkled shirt and I was horrified.

Remember, any Mothers Bearing Agenda Gifts (MBAG - we thought why not get in on the acronym act?) outside of normal gift-giving events (Christmas, birthdays, religious celebrations), mean that they really want you to change something. A gift for "no reason at all" can be loaded. It can speak volumes.

Here, we decode what your mum is trying to tell you when she's MBAGing.


(By the way, these are real gifts from real mums to friends, family and workmates, but no relationships have been hurt in the translations).

A push lawn mower: Do I really need to give you this? You are an adult now, living away from home and part of being an adult is not having a lawn that you can hide human bodies in. It's not a good look. You are renters but now you look like renters. What will the neighbours think?

Ab Cruncher: Saw it on TV and thought your ABs might need it.

Cookbook after cookbook: Seriously, make yourself a decent meal. You're wasting money on takeway. Cook something at home FFS.

Massage voucher, lavender eye mask, book on mindfulness et al: You are really stressed and it's worrying me but every time I ask you about it you bite my head off. Calm down.

Watch the video below for gifts that don't break the bank.

Gym membership: I know you've just returned from a year in London and all that pub food was fun and all of those cider's were great, but you've put on weight and the earlier you deal with it the better. Oh, and even though I've told you all your life to be sunsafe, go outside for a while (maybe for a run?).

Hairdresser voucher: It's called upkeep. Either be a hippy or get your roots done.

A puppy: I really want a dog and your father doesn't and I know you don't have the bandwidth for a dog at the moment so it's a boomerang puppy. It's going to come right back to me.

A set of soup spoons: When I come to your place I don't want to eat soup from a dessert (or tea) spoon. All of my friends have soup spoons - it's not natural to not have soup spoons.


A salad washer: Salad leaves need to be washed to get rid of the pesticides and I read a story once that said you can get cancer from pesticides. This poor girl had cancer from pesticides. Don't just pour salad leaves out of a plastic bag into the salad bowl. I can't stop you from buying salad leaves in a plastic bag but, at least, please wash them. This should make it easy. It's only a bit of washing up.

A new dress: Your cousin was wearing one just like it at the wedding we went to last month and I thought you might need a more formal dress in your wardrobe. Your wardrobe is so casual. I'm sure you could even dress it down for work with just some simple ballet flats.

Book called How to Tidy Your House: Mum has jumped the shark.

Has your mum, or have you, ever given agenda presents?