My dear Miss Bennett,
The last time I wrote to you it was to praise you for how you have handled our move from Arkansas to Nebraska. This time I want to explain to you why I chose the book Persuasion to reference.
It’s one of my all time favorite books, right up there with Pride and Prejudice. But, how Jane Austen wrote the protagonist in Persuasion is altogether different from how she wrote Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice. Anne Elliot was a person of substance, yes, but she was also meek and unsure of herself. Mainly because of her vain father and sister. She was loved and valued by her neighbor and dear friend, Lady Russell, who treated her more like a daughter than a neighbor.
Miss Anne fell in love and was persuaded to not follow that path, break the heart of the object of her affection, and in doing so, break her own heart. All to please others.
Elizabeth Bennett would never do that. She had a self-awareness that Anne Elliot did not possess. She might not have known what she wanted, but she knew what she didn’t want. And sometimes, that’s good enough. She didn’t want to lead a life that wasn’t hers. A life that forced on her by society, duty, family obligation. She wouldn’t settle. She refused.
It took Anne Elliot eight years to learn what she didn’t want, however she still needed some persuading to change her life around. Eight years after breaking up with the love of her life because her family wanted her to, he walked back into her life. She was elated and embarrassed at the same time. Elated to see him again. Embarrassed because as she looked back on that time in her life with wiser eyes, she realized she had been a fool to let him go. Lady Russell persuaded her to let Captain Wentworth know that she still loved him. She needed to take the chance of being rejected in order to take the chance of being happy. It’s all a gamble. We can either be a witness as life happens around us without any say in the matter, or we can be a deliberate creator and make life happen.
There is no right or wrong way. Whatever is your way is best. While you had to be a bit persuaded to move here, I am amazed every day at how you charge through life forging your own path. You take control. You do what you want and you fight what you don’t want. Some people might think that is the sign of a spoiled brat. I have come to believe, however, that this is a sign of a person of substance. I have rarely been a fighter. I have mostly been a willing witness, letting life pass me by.
It wasn’t until I watched the Nicholas Cage movie The Family Man that it dawned on me that I could make a change. Just do it-muddle through the challenges, and bask in the sun on the other side. That’s when I knew I could ask Mr. Paul for a divorce. You know him. We have discussed this many times. I knew when I saw Nicholas Cage wake up one morning with nothing around him that he knew, and he just had to make it work, and he DID make it work, that I could too. I had to be persuaded to change my life.
Watching you conquer math, make up songs and sing your heart out loud and proud no matter who is watching, try over and over again to get the dance moves just right on the game Just Dance – again, no matter who is watching – has inspired me greatly.
I have always felt comfortable helping others. Helping others either physically or emotionally comes naturally to me. Since we have moved to Omaha, I have felt a strong pull to follow my gut and study to be a life coach. I’m already on the path with going back to school for I/O Psychology. But, I need to do more. I need to get certified in Life Coaching, which I am now working on. I can’t in good conscience sit here and tell you day after day to follow your dreams if I can’t walk the walk. Watching you grow has persuaded me once again.
I can’t be a mother of substance, a woman of substance, a person of substance if I can’t muddle through the challenges and bask in the sun on the other side.
So, I’m doing it. I’m going to be a life coach. Whether it’s strictly volunteer or I have my own business someday – it doesn’t matter to me. I just know that if I don’t do it, I will always wonder, I will always be wanting, I will always be searching, and I will not be a good example to you.
Anne Elliot did tell Captain Wentworth that she loved him and they ended up together. Elizabeth Bennett didn’t marry Mr. Collins even though it could’ve meant that she and her sisters ended up destitute. Anne needed time to grow up in order to take her leap. Elizabeth Bennett barreled through every day as if it were her last. Two very different people. But, two women of substance, who grabbed life and chose to be happy, no matter what anyone thought of the means of that happiness.
I love you, my dear Elizabeth and I thank you for being an inspiration to me every single day. Someday, when you are older and you read these letters, I hope that you will be able to look on a mother of substance, who followed her dream, and who is basking in the sun on the other side. I hope all of this and more for you.
I love you. I honor you. I am proud to be your mom!