Friday, May 11, 2012

In Honor of Mother's Day: Favorite Fictional Moms

Who is your favorite mother from a book or movie?

This is the question I've been asking for the last couple weeks in preparation for this special blog post for Mother's Day. And I haven't gotten many answers. This goes to show that mothers really are under-represented in movies and literature, and often, when a mom does make her way into a story, she's evil or overbearing or crazy. I think that's sad, don't you?

So I asked our Facebook followers about their favorite fictional moms and I got a couple good responses. One follower brought up Mama Bear of the Berenstain Bears, citing that Mama Bear "always knows what to say and not only to her bear cubs but also to papa bear. None of the advice ever goes out of style."

A favorite of Natasha Payne-Brunson, one of our librarians here at RPL, is the mom from Love You Forever, a picture book by Robert Munsch celebrating the bond between a mother and son.  Natasha remembers reading the book as a child and that it impacted her even then. She recalls that "it shows the developing stages of the child and how his mother took care of him and at the end he took care of his mother. . . I came across it again a year ago and I will share it with my son."

To find other well-loved fictional moms, I looked to Twitter. A favorite there is Molly Weasley, matriarch of the Weasley family in the Harry Potter series. Ma Ingalls of Little House on the Prairie is a classic favorite. Another is Little Women's saccharin Marmee March. An unusual choice that popped up on Twitter is Jenny Fields, the nontraditional mother of T.S. Garp in John Irving's The World According to Garp. 

Jenny Fields may not be warm and fuzzy, but she does love and want the best for her son. Some mothers that came up in conversation were downright awful. It's no wonder, because literature is full of bad parents! There seem to be more bad mothers than good ones. My favorite bad mom, English major and nerd that I am, is Grendel's mother in Beowulf (who arguably could be considered an excellent mother). Joan Crawford of Mommie Dearest came up more than once during my discussions with people. Precious' selfish mother in Push is a great (bad) recent example. And in the V.C. Andrews classic Flowers in the Attic, Corrine Dollanganger locks her four children in an attic and forgets about them. There is some really scary stuff out there. 

All the more reason to celebrate good moms this weekend by reading a book or watching a movie featuring a strong motherly role model. Sarah Plain and Tall? One Hundred Years of Solitude? We'll even count The Simpsons if you'll take inspiration from Marge. While your choices for good fictional moms might be limited, they are out there if you look hard enough. 

Happy Mother's Day, everyone!

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