I just got off the phone with my mom to wish her a good ol’ Happy Mother’s Day. My parents live nine hours away from Montreal in northern Ontario, and the last time I spoke with her was last weekend when it was a hot & hazy 30C where she was. This morning, however, she told me the ground outside is covered in a blanket of freakish May snow, but that’s not going to stop her and the rest of my family from celebrating with a Mother’s Day barbecue. Not even mother nature can keep own mother’s inner nature from getting a taste of her favorite roasted meat.
I’m not sure what I would do without my mother. She’s the most stabilizing force in my life and a constant source of unconditional love. And there is no one else on Earth who has taught me more about life and love and everything in between than my mom Marlene. In honor of the wisdom of mothers both past and present, Brain Pickings recently compiled a beautiful collection of the finest letters of motherly advice from some of the most influential and timeless women and mothers of all-time. The following are just a few of my favorites:
MAYA ANGELOU TO THE DAUGHTER SHE NEVER HAD: “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud. Do not complain. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution. Never whine. Whining lets a brute know that a victim is in the neighborhood. Be certain that you do not die without having done something wonderful for humanity.”
CLARE BOOTHE LUCE TO HER 18-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER ANN: “Don’t worry about your studies. When you want to do them well you will do them superbly but for the moment the main thing is to get what little happiness there is out of life in this wartorn world because ‘these are the good old days’ now.”
FUTURE PRESIDENT JOHN ADAMS’ WIFE ABIGAIL ADAMS TO HER 12-YEAR-OLD SON IN 1780: “These are times in which a Genious would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. Would Cicero have shone so distinguished an orater, if he had not been roused, kindled and enflamed by the Tyranny of Catiline, Millo, Verres and Mark Anthony. 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.”
You can read all of these letters and more by visiting BrainPickings.org. A common thread running through them all is how life is not designed to be easy — it is filled with peaks of brightness and valleys of darkness. But it’s this spectrum of emotions and experience that makes life so enriching. As we each move along our own life journey it is the heart and wisdom of our mothers that keeps our compasses on track, always reminding us that love is the most important fundamental of life. Period. So the next time life gives you a snowstorm, remember to forget about it and have a barbecue anyways. It’s mothers who teach us that moments like this are the true heart of life.