We had an eventful weekend. There is much to say. So much that I don't know where or how to say it. I'm feeling blocked again, although I don't know by what. The impending move, perhaps? Dunno.
In the world of Official Officialness, Maddie and Riley are three. They had a party, they got bikes, it's real. The party was a low-key-to-be affair, with some family and some friends, just a brunch gathering at my mom and stepdad's house. I guess in the realm of kid birthdays, it was pretty sedate. There were no bouncy houses, there was no character theme. The cupcakes were homemade.
All of that was well and good, but there was one bit, a big bit, so more than a bit, that threw me for a loop: the gifts. No one went overboard, but there were still many, many gifts. Maddie and Riley knew there would be gifts and had been asking me incessantly in the days leading up to the event, "Mama, we gonna get presents on our birthday? Mama, there gonna be gifts?" The kids could not wait to start tearing off paper. Cards were snubbed, and the gifts themselves barely given a second glance before the next wrapped box was clawed, ripped, ravaged. Forget saying thank you.
Yes, it's the age. But I find it very uncomfortable, irritating, and embarrassing. I realize that this is my problem; I'm not good at giving or receiving gifts, and I also loathe consumer culture in general. It troubles me that Maddie and Riley want things, so many things, anything, in fact. They just WANT STUFF. The quality and condition of the stuff does not matter to them, they just have this inherent desire to possess things, which they often cherish for no longer than a few moments before discarding them and moving on.
I buy very little for Maddie and Riley. Why bother when they are content with rocks and sticks, bubble wrap and cardboard boxes. It's not that I don't want them to have toys, but I don't want them to think that we buy anything we want or that getting gifts is what holidays and events are all about.
I'm such a Scrooge. It's only gotten worse since John died. I used to take a certain pride in finding the perfect gift for someone; now it feels like a chore. John's death sucked the little joy I got from gifting right out of it. As a result, I've stopped, and I'm not shy about blaming it on widowhood. Pulling the widow card is not something I take lightly, but when it comes to gifting, I do it frequently. Even on occasions such as birthdays, when it is a social expectation that one will come bearing a token, I just show up empty-handed. It's rude, and I know it, but I can't seem to stop. Gifting is very tiring.
It's all especially rude in light of the fact that I've been the recipient of countless gifts since John died. I've received tangible gifts and the intangible gifts of love, support, and time. It's all meant a lot to me, but it hasn't yet inspired me to start giving back. I hope someday it will.
Maddie and Riley and I have been enjoying their new toys together. It was a good birthday, but a reminder of what a strange journey grief can be, and how grief comes out in unexpected and sometimes inappropriate ways.