|Poet Anne Bradstreet's grave|
As I read Michael Bourne’s essay, “The Activity That Dare Not Speak Its Name: My Mother’s Secret Literary Life,” I couldn’t help but think of the limited perspective of parents as people; that is, the very human and childlike conceit that “no-life-existed-for-mommy-or-daddy-before-me.” One day my son will balk at the thought of my having a past that includes any excitement, adventure, risk-taking, or (heaven forbid) scandal. When that time comes, I hope I’ll remember Bourne’s beautiful tribute to his mother, which not only validates her creative ambition, but does much to empower the lot of us—sons and daughters, fathers and mothers alike.
Here’s the opening paragraph, which I hope will bait you into reading Bourne’s essay (originally published at The Millions) in its entirety:
“Last fall, when I was home visiting my parents in Marin County, California, I ducked downstairs to check my email on my mother’s computer. When I typed the address of my email server into her browser, the history bar popped up with a list of oddly familiar websites: www.tinhouse.com is one I remember; www.glimmertrain.com is another. I can recall my mother writing a few short stories when I was a kid back in the 1970s, and once more recently she’d mentioned to me that, 'just for fun,' she was writing a series of fictional journal entries in the voice of 17th century American poet Anne Bradstreet, whom she was studying for a master’s degree she was pursuing late in life. But Tin House? Glimmer Train? What kind of secret life was my 72-year-old mother leading?...”