As we approach Mother’s Day, our thoughts are turned to the mothers, grandmothers, aunties, and other women who have helped to shape our lives. I have my own fond memories of my mom. She was a teacher and even though she has ‘retired’ from teaching, she still finds ways to teach young people about important life lessons. She continues to lead and guide me, even though I’m more than a few decades into my own life.
But I also consider the other women of my life, grandmothers, scout leaders, church youth leaders, and librarians, who shaped me and taught me.
- I learned to sit back and relax.
- I learned to smile and look on the bright side.
- I learned to be strong and face my fears.
- I learned how to start a campfire and sing silly songs.
- I learned how to do research for school papers.
- I learned how to set and achieve goals.
- I learned how to craft.
- I learned how to be a friend.
- I learned all about life.
I was an avid reader in my youth (surprise) and I remember many of the mothers in the stories and how they helped to shape the main characters' lives with love and guidance. Who can forget Mrs. Hatcher, mother of the sensible Peter and the precocious Fudge, in Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume? She had the patience of a saint, dealing with Fudge and all his antics, while helping Peter learn to deal with Fudge and his turtle-swallowing antics.
I think of Mrs. Darling, from Peter Pan, by Sir James M. Barrie. Mrs. Darling appears in the story only briefly, but her presence permeates the entire story. She is a loving, devoted mother who tells her children stories and sings to them. We see her at the end of the story when she was mourning the loss of her children, as she sat by the window, waiting for their return. And we see how Wendy becomes a mother to Peter, the lost boys, and her own brothers while in Neverland. She is firm, yet gentle, and takes wonderful care of all the ‘children’ in her charge. She learned these traits from observing her own mother.
A powerful example of motherhood in literature is the mothers in the Harry Potter series. Harry’s mother, long dead when we first meet Harry, is a constant presence in his life. Mrs. Weasley, a mother of seven, unofficially adopts Harry and Hermione, who need a family in the wizarding world. She is fiercely protective and loving to all of her children. Even Harry’s aunt, who treated Harry very badly, was a doting, loving mother to her own son. Draco’s mother risked everything for him. We know about many of the character’s mothers, even if only in mention. The acts of mothers play heavily through this epic.
Who are some of your favorite literary mothers? Margaret “Marmee” March from Little Women? Mrs. Bennett from Pride and Prejudice? Caroline Ingles from Little House on the Prairie? Or maybe Raksha from The Jungle Book.
Check out these books and the mothers who helped to make the story: