A couple of weeks ago I celebrated my 45th birthday (huzzah – Happy Birthday to me!). My 14 year old wanted precise instructions for what I wanted for my birthday. He also took it upon himself to coordinate his brother and father into a crack Birthday Breakfast team. I lay in bed pretending to be asleep when he snuck in and woke his father (how anyone could think I could sleep through my husband’s early morning bumbling about in our bedroom I do not know) and then softly giggled to myself as I heard his efforts to waken his comatose brother. Loud rustlings told me that pre-birthday wrapping of presents were happening only now but I decided to overlook that omission.
Half an hour later discordant mumblings rose up the stairs "Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Mama…" and I was presented with a tray. In past years I have been given freshly squeezed orange juice but somehow my normally efficient younger son fell down on that detail – never mind – this year he cooked my eggs. "One cooked well, one sunny side up because I didn’t know which you liked," he explained.
A few other corners were cut this year – instead of opening presents on a well-decorated table complete with flowers freshly picked from our garden (part of the bonus of a summer birthday) I was given a motley assortment of presents whilst still in bed. My eldest shone here – in the past he has been rather dismissive of presents, not wanting to make anything as he used to when he was small but not quite getting it together to buy anything either. This year not only did he give me a lovely present of silver earrings, he got exactly the kind I like. And to go with it was a Putamayo tape of Middle Eastern music – whereas in past years he has been known to record a CD of songs which he likes (and which I find unlistenable) this year he actually took the time to think about me and what I might like. At 16 he is maturing beautifully.
My younger son has always been able to know what I like – our connection is very strong and we share many things in common. This year he gave me a beautiful piece of pottery.
Of course my husband knows just what to give me – not leastwise because he is handed a list several months before my birthday each year. A non-conformist, he often veers radically away from the list just so as not to appear complacent. Each year I have to weigh up his maverick streak against his equally possible plaintive wail of "I didn’t know what to get you" (this is after 20 years of getting a list which inevitably consists of "cook books" "silver jewelry" "bath smellies" "plants" and the like!). This year he gave me things from the list and a surprise – a lovely volume of poetry by Mary Oliver who I hadn’t heard of, but who is now a firm favorite.
Looking at my presents brought back many lovely memories of birthdays past – of handmade cards, of half-cooked breakfasts, of handmade uh, er, presents of all shapes and sizes…. of my sons growing up and changing year by year. Each of my birthdays is a blessing and each year has been celebrated in the heart of my family. I am truly grateful.
Posted on July 16, 2007 in Family Life and Parenting