I was talking to a friend about some of the tensions of motherhood and the creative life and she quoted from Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea. I remembered having a copy on my shelf at home and resolved to re-read it (having also received a copy for high school graduation, but that was the wrong time of life to read the book so it didn’t make an impact then!)
Lindbergh was a mother of five in addition to being a writer, and Gift from the Sea is a collection of her thoughts from a time she got away to the beach alone for a few days. Published in 1955, the book sounds remarkably like the work/life balance conversations women still have today.
Morrow struggled to balance her responsibilities as a wife and mother (which she doesn’t apologize for–that’s the 1950s voice!), with her desire to have focus and awareness in her creative and spiritual life. She writes about finding space for “significance and beauty” without having to sacrifice the considerable time she wants to devote to building significant relationships with her family and friends.
I appreciated the book for its honesty and the way that Lindbergh gave voice to the idea that the same woman can desire to spend out fully on her family while also desiring to cultivate her own life of the mind and have her own creative outlets. In Lindbergh’s day, perhaps the latter was harder to justify, while in our own maybe the former is what we have to explain. Gift from the Sea doesn’t hold an abundance of practical advice–if it did it might seem dated or not widely applicable–but the author’s understanding and thoughtfulness, as well as her ability to articulate the importance of both living in relationship with others and finding space for nourishing your spiritual and intellectual life make the book an excellent resource.
I’d recommend this book highly to mothers, but also to any woman who struggles to carve out creative time from the busyness of modern life.
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