Anne Sexton, mothering and maxi dresses…

Day 19 – A Month of Maxi Dresses…


Anne Sexton in a maxi dress…

My friend Jen sent me a book for my birthday.  It’s called, Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters.  Jen and I spent a good portion of our college years obsessing over Silvia Plath, Truman Capote and Anne Sexton.  We would sit huddled over a CD player in our apartment listening to Anne Sexton reading her painful, sad poetry and feeling like she totally got us.


Another fab maxi…

From what I remember, Anne Sexton wasn’t the best mother.  I remember one story about Anne falling comatose onto her dinner plate while her husband and kids kept eating in stony silence.  I didn’t have kids at the time so the story really didn’t make an impact on me.  In fact, I thought it was kind of funny.  But apparently, that’s just the tip of the iceberg of Anne Sexton “mom stories” that are in this book.  I can’t wait to read Anne again now that I’m a mom.  Here is one of the letters from the book.  It is to her daughter, Linda…

Dear Linda,

I am in the middle of a flight to St. Louis to give a reading. I was reading a New Yorker story that made me think of my mother and all alone in the seat I whispered to her “I know, Mother, I know.” (Found a pen!) And I thought of you — someday flying somewhere all alone and me dead perhaps and you wishing to speak to me.

And I want to speak back. (Linda, maybe it won’t be flying, maybe it will be at your own kitchen table drinking tea some afternoon when you are 40. Anytime.) — I want to say back.

1st I love you.

2. You never let me down.

3. I know. I was there once. I too, was 40 with a dead mother who I needed still. . . .

This is my message to the 40 year old Linda. No matter what happens you were always my bobolink, my special Linda Gray. Life is not easy. It is awfully lonely. I know that. Now you too know it — wherever you are, Linda, talking to me. But I’ve had a good life — I wrote unhappy — but I lived to the hilt. You too, Linda — Live to the HILT! To the top. I love you 40 year old, Linda, and I love what you do, what you find, what you are!—Be your own woman. Belong to those you love. Talk to my poems, and talk to your heart — I’m in both: if you need me. I lied, Linda. I did love my mother and she loved me. She never held me but I miss her, so that I have to deny I ever loved her — or she me! Silly Anne! So there!


I am definitely going to write my letters to my kids now.  I think I’ll start with, “I’m dead now so you can’t be mad at me — The dogs didn’t eat your Halloween candy while you were sleeping.  I did.”




  • Angela says:

    Thanks for sharing that letter. I needed to read it today, being in the midst of an uncomfortable awkward visit with my mother.
    On a side note, I started “Mother’s Day Letter Journals” for my kids, where on Mother’s day I write them a letter telling them why I love being their mom, and what I remember as proud moments over the year. I think it will make lovely presents for them when I die.

  • Jenn says:

    Thanks for easing the guilt I was feeling for eating Sweet T’s M&Ms while she was out with her grandparents.

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