Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Birthday passed.

Unless otherwise noted, all materials on this blog are (c) 2009 by Madeleine Vedel

I turned 43 on the 13th of May. For once, my birthday was neither on a Friday (the day of my arrival on this earth) nor on Mother's day (American Mother's day that is, the French one is just around the corner). The last time this happened, it was actually quite a lovely day as I was with my mother, and Leo was with me. With her encouragement he wrote me an extraordinarily beautiful letter. I was in tears of joy and gratefulness. I think it is still my favorite gift ever.

However, when you're a single mom in your own home, and having a birthday, I've learned, your kids just don't know what to do about it. Last year, my awesome au pair Hayley orchestrated a party, a special gift, balloons, brownies, candles, the works. But this year, doing without home-based help, the day slipped by somewhat uneventfully. I had a lovely SMS in the morning from my vintner, and a couple of lovely emails from abroad, some facebook notes.

It's not really a big deal, but it's curious. Kids need to be guided, led to gift-giving, to celebrating another. They've been raised to have high expectations for their own birthdays (and for Christmas morning if you celebrate it). And, as a friend pointed out, it is quite likely that the wonderful birthday Hayley and the boys organized for me last year, is precisely why they did nothing this year. How do two little boys top that? and can they give a gift if they can't purchase it? The ever-present materialism of this world leads many a child to think that the only real gift is one that costs money. I truly do try to teach them otherwise, but it hasn't necessarily sunk in. Reading a book the week before about a little boy who offers his mother a bouquet of flowers and fresh-picked berries didn't apparently resonate. How do we convey that simply a hug and a wish for a lovely day, perhaps with a pretty hand-drawn card would be just dandy (telling them this ahead of time didn't work either...). Ah well.

Leo and I went out for a walk hand in hand before his sports' practice that evening, and as we did he explained to me that had he been able to, he would have made me a ring, perhaps at the iron forgery. I pointed out that rings are rarely in iron, more often in silver or gold. And he said he would paint it blue.

Voila, my gift in all its beautiful imagery. And, in all the fields around us, poppies are blooming like crazy. Thank you world.


Diane Lherbier said...

Happy Birthday Madeleine.....from an american in saint martin de crau ! Diane...remember me ? By the way I've discovered your blog one week ago and I'm an acro already ! This is the first time I've ever followed a blog...keep writing !! xxoo

Madeleine Vedel said...

Hello my dear! great to hear from you and so glad you like the blog -- yes, we've a lot in common -- bi-lingual kids, coping in Provence, all the cultural marvels and confusions! Thanks for the birthday wishes, and stay well! Apparently my hair dresser is a new friend of yours?

Diane Lherbier said...

Hmmm...your hair dresser? Could be Charlie if you still get beautiful in Arles ? Don't know anyone with talented hands for haircuts in Avignon!
I'd like my kids to help me get on facebook..we can write there. A+

Madeleine Vedel said...

facebook is a very interesting place to be. My au pair from last year helped me get on it, and now, the entire family, friends, colleagues... from young to old. Quite amazing. and yes, in Arles, she works at le Salamandre, and has a daughter. bisous

Diane Lherbier said...

interesting....I'll have to search for who..
Loved your last three writings! I will now look closer at the rocks on my walks to notice the simple beauty..I really enjoyed reading about your adventure at sea (your bread does look yummy!), and I definitely want to learn how to live more in Kairos time ! Being with Frédéric and living in France has definitely helped me understand the importance of special simple moments...thanks for reminding me!! xxoo you are a beautiful person and a truly gifted writer.

Madeleine Vedel said...

it took me a while, but at last another post... personal as I often am. Take care!