Sunday, May 11, 2008

To My Son on Mother's Day

When I wrote about my mother in my earlier Mother's Day post, I forgot to mention my son--who made me a mother--which has truly been the most meaningful aspect of my life. I gave birth to him when I was 39, and I have felt truly blessed for the last 18 (almost 19) years. Being a mother has not only changed me in every way (all good things), but in the darkest hours of depression, my love for my son has sustained me.

This is the first Mother's Day I'm not spending with my son. He's away at college, and I know he doesn't read my blog so I can write this without embarrassing him.

Dear Alex,
I love you completely and unconditionally. And I believe that's the greatest gift I can give you. When you were born, my entire world changed. When I looked at you, suddenly I felt a love that was greater than any I had ever known before. It's difficult to describe, but I hope some day you'll have a child (or children) and know what I mean.

I realize it's not easy to be a college student these days. There's so much external pressure (not from us) to fit in with your peers, to figure out what you want to be, to get good grades, and to succeed in a chosen profession.

Yet, somehow and somewhere, things got turned around in academia, and in life. What's important is who you are, not what you do. Fitting in with your peer group matters far less than finding a few good friends who you truly care about and who care about you.

At 18 years old (almost 19), you don't need to worry about what you want to "be." You are who you are, and you need to let your vocation speak to you. While there is tremendous pressure to figure everything out now, it's an artificial expectation. That's not how life works; over time, people evolve. Everyone doesn't "find themselves" at the same age. At this stage in your life, what's most important is to identify and pursue your passions--and hopefully that will ultimately lead you to find your life's work.

Most of all, be true to yourself. When I look back, I feel that perhaps my depressions started at your age because I tried to accommodate other people's morals and values, which were so different from my own. Rather than speaking out when I disagreed with my fellow students and professors, I remained quiet. Rather than fighting for what I believed in, I steered away from confrontation. And years later, rather than writing my books the way I wanted to, I changed them so that my agent could sell them.

In the last few years, I have recognized that my illness was caused by my choices--not by my biochemistry. So, don't worry about it being genetically passed on to you.

What I hope for you is that you will make your own choices, pursue your own dreams, and stop worrying about what others think. Our lives are what we make them. I hope that yours is creative, loving, satisfying, and fulfilling. But know--that whatever you do--your father and I love you completely and unconditionally, and we always will.

Love,
Mom

14 comments:

perennial sam said...

Happy Mother's Day Susan!

This is a beautiful letter. Even though your son may not read it, I'm sure he feels the great love you have for him.

Gianna said...

Will you give that to him? I wish I had had a mom like you...and my mom is pretty great too...but in a different way...I needed someone who could say the things you just said to your son and she didn't know how.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Sam,
Thank you. I know he does too.

Susan

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Gianna,
Thank you! Yes, I will send it to my son. When we've spoken on the telephone, I've told him various versions of this same sentiment.

I'm not sure it's as meaningful to him as it might have been for you. But then, perhaps that's because he knows I feel this way. Still, I don't believe you can ever tell your child you love him or her too many times!

Susan

Coco said...

Happy Mother's Day Susan, what a loving letter, your son is lucky! And it sounds like you're pretty blessed to have such a wonderful son :)

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Coco,
Thank you for your kind words. And Happy Mother's Day to you as well!

Susan

Mariposa said...

How lovely!!!

Happy Mother's Day to you!!!

Jazz said...

What a beautiful letter, Susan. I wish my parents had been able to say something like that to me. It's taken me forty years to "find myself".

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Mariposa,
Thank you! Hope you had a happy Mother's Day too.

Susan

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Jazz,
Thank you. My parents loved me unconditionally as well, so I have understood the importance of this kind of acceptance. That's not to say I was a "perfect" mother by any means. Hopefully, we do the best we can, and share the insight we've gained with our children.

Susan

Nancie said...

Dear Susan,

Thank you for sharing this sweet and beautiful letter. I admire your love for your son. He is so blessed to have a caring and understanding mother like you.

"What's important is who you are, not what you do." This statement is so true and very encouraging!

Thanks for all your encouragements to me too. Thank God I am better and learning to pace myself moderately :)

Take care!

Nancie

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Nancie,
Yes, I do love my son dearly. My greatest disappointment is that I was very ill for almost ten years of his life. But we all do the best we can.

It's my pleasure to try and provide support to you. When I was so sick, I wish I had known people who could have helped me. But in those days, everyone on the Internet was so negative about this illness that I couldn't find one person who provided hope!

Susan

Syd said...

What a beautiful letter.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Thanks, Sydney.