I recently watched the HBO documentary “Six for Sondheim” paying tribute to the Broadway composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim. To our family, Sondheim is a god. His songs are smart and complex and at the same time playful and witty. They grab our hearts and make us think deeply about ourselves. We like that.
The show is a biography told through edited clips of interviews with Sondheim himself throughout his life. I was fascinated to hear about his inspirations, his process, his successes and failures. But that’s not why I’m writing about it.
He speaks about his family—an only child of divorced parents who lived with his very unhappy mother. At almost two-thirds the way through the documentary he says that his mother was going in for heart surgery and she hands him a letter to read in case she doesn’t make it through the surgery. In it she writes that the
The only regret I ever had was giving you birth.
WHAT!? Are you **insert expletive** kidding me? How could a mother write such a note?
Sondheim is 83 and even though he says he’s come to understand and forgive his mother, you can still see the pain and tears in his eyes as he tells that story to the camera. My heart aches for this beautiful, creative, thoughtful man and all those who are not loved unconditionally by their parents.
Sondheim and EVERY human being deserves to be cherished and adored. The first statement in Brené Brown’s Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto sums up my feelings perfectly:
Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and lovable. You will learn this from my words and actions—the lessons on love are in how I treat you and how I treat myself.
Mr. Sondheim, I am so sorry that your mother couldn’t feel beyond her own misery to love you and let you know through her actions that you are lovable. To us, you are a treasure.