Gifts For Mama

Last week I celebrated my 35th birthday with my family. It was a wonderful day, full of gifts and surprises. Not the kind of gifts you unwrap (though there were a couple of those) but gifts given and received in love.

gifts from Brienne's birthday
simply to illustrate the "gifts" theme of this post

This year I requested we use my birthday gift budget to buy me a concert ticket. Tonight I'm going to Natalie MacMaster: Christmas in Cape Breton. Ok, well I'm not going to Cape Breton but to MacMaster's Christmas themed holiday program that's passing through Maine right now. A friend will be joining me, it's a girls night out and I'm so excited. I have wanted to see a live music show for months and months and finally it's happening for my birthday. (Thanks Debbie for the encouragement.)

Damien always makes me the sweetest cards

But the concert is really just the icing on the cake of an already wonderful birthday week and month (December with all its festivities seems like a continuation of the celebration).

sugar cookies instead of cake

I received so many lovely gifts for my birthday and I have to admit I have been giving myself a few gifts this month.  Here they are in no particular order:

The gift of time. Time off from school. Time to go to bed early and read books. Time to tickle my children and read stories. Time to make Christmas gifts. Less time spent on my computer (photo work, internet, communication etc...) more time enjoying this season.

The gift of friendship. This has been freely given but I have also been seeking it out as of late. I am tired of feeling isolated and have made a conscious decision during this month off from school to reach out and make time for friends. Friends for tea, friends for lunch, and friends to go to concerts with.

The gift of pretty. For my birthday Laurent and Brienne made these pendants for me. Also, my friend gave me earrings (see photo at end). I feel like a new woman with all this new jewelry.

The gift of nature. Our winter hikes this month have been gorgeous. I haven't shared many photos because I haven't had the time to process them all, nor am I posting as much. But I assure you (even without the photos to prove it) these weekly hikes refresh and recharge me.

The gift of pampering. On my birthday we had friends over for cookies and tea in the afternoon. Damien came home from work early to start preparing a special supper. As our friends were leaving I was shooed off to a hot bath, where I was waited on ("can I bring you tea mommy?") while Damien cooked. After our delicious supper I was escorted to the in-house spa where I was treated to body massage, a pedicure and manicure - while sipping a starbucks coffee and eating more cookies. I went to bed feeling loved, loved, loved with soft and supple skin to boot!

The gift of reading (& the promise of more good food). My mother ordered me my very own copy of Wild Fermentation for my birthday. It arrived today (smile).

The gift of understanding. This is a gift I give myself, though many have extended it to me also. I seem to be in a long period of self-evaluation and reflection and the darkening days simply intensify this introspection. I want to further understand what makes me happy, what it looks like for me to function at my best. I want to know what will bring me joy as our lives change and shift. So I'm reading, finding resources, taking personality tests, watching inspirational TED talks (you must watch this TED talk) etc...

The gift of love. I'm taking time to ask questions about who I am because I want to continue the work of creating a life I love.

This all sounds so self-focused and I am reluctant to share my navel gazing but the truth is I want to accept myself more. Dare I say it, I want to love me. My family and friends love me, they tell me so often. I love my children and husband with all my heart and then some, why can't I love myself and feel comfortable saying that?

Wow, there is no neat and tidy way to stitch this up after opening my heart so wide. So I'll leave it there. I am loved.

Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.

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  • Penny

    Penny on Dec. 7, 2010, 2:01 p.m.

    Happy birthday! 35 can hit like a truck - but you are handling it gracefully and beautifully and honestly. Thank you for sharing, it allows the rest of us to be inspired by your commitment to yourself, and that's inspiration we can all use more of!


    • renee

      renee on Dec. 7, 2010, 2:21 p.m.

      Oh... I'm happy to be 35. I've been looking forward to this age for years. I've "felt" 35 (not in stamina or health -  in those regards I feel 19) for years with my homemaking and homeschooling and having married young. Now my age actually feels like my stage of life. 


      • Penny

        Penny on Dec. 9, 2010, 1:37 p.m.

        I know what you mean Renee, when I turned 40 it was just such a relief - I finally felt my age (mentally, I mean). In fact, I still feel forty, even though I'm 45. I hope I do when I'm 90 (God willing), 40 is just right for me!


  • Jill Foley

    Jill Foley on Dec. 7, 2010, 3:20 p.m.

    Happy Birthday! I so wish we could be real life friends...we have so many similarities.

    Enjoy the concert...Natalie McMaster is so talented and such a fantastic entertainer. When we lived in Vermont we saw her and we both were ready to go back the next night to see her again! She was that good.


  • Debbie

    Debbie on Dec. 7, 2010, 3:32 p.m.

    Happy Birthday, my friend. You are so me too.

    Enjoy Natalie MacMaster tonight. She is so amazing and I imagine you'll be flying high on life after the show; concerts always do that to me. Can't wait to hear all about it. xoxo


  • Pam

    Pam on Dec. 7, 2010, 5 p.m.

    Happy Birthday! Such a lovely post and what a wonderful way to celebrate :) I'm not familiar with Natalie MacMaster's music so I'll have to check out her website. Enjoy your concert tonight!


  • Kelly

    Kelly on Dec. 7, 2010, 5:37 p.m.

    Happy Birthday!!! I love that your family found such wonderful ways to pamper you. I'm taking some hints as my husband's birthday is tomorrow. I think it's wonderful how introspective you are (I am too) and how you share with such honesty on your blog. Have fun at the concert! (We're a few years off from mama going out at night; sounds great!) :)


  • Naomi

    Naomi on Dec. 7, 2010, 11:22 p.m.

    What a wonderful birthday! Gifts given from the heart really do mean so much more I think, whether handmade, store bought, or kinds you can't wrap. And I adore the pendants your kids made for you. Happy Birthday!


  • Ruth

    Ruth on Dec. 8, 2010, 3:53 a.m.

    it sounds like a perfect day, Renee, and you are so deserving! your family really knows how to pamper you - you're blessed!


  • Heather

    Heather on Dec. 8, 2010, 11:19 p.m.

    Oh I just loved this post. I am a few weeks away from celebrating my 35th, and there is a lot of reflection that I find myself in with regards to the true gifts that life has given. Thank you for this beautiful reminder, and may this next year be full of blessings.


  • Tara

    Tara on Dec. 9, 2010, 12:51 a.m.

    Thank you for sharing your birthday with us. It was a treat to read because I can just feel the love coming from your house (maybe your fingertips?). Life is full of so many gifts. Happy Birthday.


  • nicola@which name?

    nicola@which name? on Dec. 9, 2010, 4:02 a.m.

    What a lovely post! You are wise beyond your years, my friend. Happy happy 35th! Nicola ps. I wish I felt 19 in stamina and health. Working on it...I do believe we can reverse that aged feeling.


  • Whitney @ Nesting Season

    Whitney @ Nesting Season on Dec. 16, 2010, 1:16 a.m.

    The gift of friendship really resonates with me. With three small children, the mental, physical, and emotional demands of parenting leave me craving quiet more than companionship. As much as my friends enrich my life, sometimes even just a few hours with the girls rocks our family routine and depletes what reserves I was holding onto, keeping me from enjoying my children in the days following. (Read: I become tense and impatient, which my children react to in unpleasant ways, which (now tired and lacking in restraint) react to, and so on. I don't feel isolated so much as I feel like I am isolating friends who may be in a different place, perhaps a place where they need a friend more than ever.

    I am glad you made the time to nurture and benefit from those relationships, and hope I can work out my own balance in time.


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