To all of you out there who are moms, a big Happy Mother's Day! And to those who are not moms, you, too, know how important Mom is in the equation of life, how your own mom shaped you. Yesterday, one of my favorite sites, Brain Pickings, in a tribute to Mother's Day, posted some letters of love and advice from famous women to their children.
Have you considered leaving a letter for your child to read once you are gone? It's a powerful thing, not just for your child, but for you.
I was struck by moments in several of the letters, which are quite different from one another. Anne Sexton, a renowned and powerful poet who suffered from undiagnosed mental illness, which was deeply damaging to her daughter, Linda Gray (no relation), expresses her love and care and makes it clear that her daughter is beloved. Does this redeem Anne Sexton for the chaos she created as a mother? Only her daughter could tell you, but the letter is heartfelt, and no doubt was important to Anne as well as to her daughter.
On a less emotional but not less powerful note, the excerpt below, from Abigail Adams to her son, John Quincy (who, as you know followed in his father's footsteps to become President of the United States), is one of my favorites. It reminds me of what we reach for in the characters we write. A vigorous mind and contending with difficulties, yes, these are qualities our favorite characters have.
The Habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. All History will convince you of this, and that wisdom and penetration are the fruits of experience, not the Lessons of retirement and leisure. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised, and animated by scenes that engage the Heart, then those qualities which would otherways lay dormant, wake into Life, and form the Character of the Hero and the Statesman.
For the full post on motherly advice, go to the Brain Pickings post, here.