Yesterday was Mother’s Day in the U.S., and we were celebrating with our families (or perhaps celebrating by ourselves, as one of the joys of Mother’s Day is being given a break from our kids in our honor!). Today we’ve created a list of books with memorable mother figures, some good, some…. not.
Book: “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH” by Robert C. O’Brien
In this classic children’s book, our mom is a mouse named Mrs. Frisbee. Having been recently widowed thanks to the farmer’s cat, Mrs. Frisby is left to care for her four children. Unfortunately, her home needs to be relocated due to the upcoming harvest, and it’s exactly when her youngest son, Timothy, gets sick with pneumonia and can’t be moved. So she has to turn to rats who have become hyper intelligent thanks to medical experiments performed on them, in hopes that they can help her family move safely. Mrs. Frisby will go to any lengths to protect her kids, including tangling with a cat, meeting with an owl, and putting her faith in rats she doesn’t personally know. Perhaps an unconventional mother for this list, but a wonderful one nonetheless!
Book: “Ramona and Her Mother” by Beverly Cleary
Ramona Quimby is well loved in the children’s literature world because of her precocious nature and her relatable and funny adventures. As she tangles with usual childhood issues, she perseveres due to her spunky nature and her family. In “Ramona and Her Mother”, Ramona (and the rest of the Quimby Family) has to adjust to both of her parents working full time, which leads to a bit of strife. Along with that, Ramona finds herself jealous of the relationship her mother has with older sister Beezus, but it’s clear that Dorothy loves both her daughters, even if they are very different people. Ramona and Dorothy have a sweet relationship between a patient mom and her free spirited child, and their realistic and fun interactions are very lovely.
Book: “The Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan
This generational family saga is filled with the stories of mothers and daughters and the complications that can come with that relationship. Especially when culture clash and the different experiences between first and second generation immigrants can cause even more strife. But it’s the heartbreaking sacrifices and choices that some of the mothers make in this book that really show the pain and uncertainty that motherhood can have, and how these choices can reverberate and have consequences for everyone. As a daughter tries to reconcile the mother who had to make unthinkable decisions, with the mother she knew, who never seemed to be understanding, the stories of all her mother’s friends come out and show the ups and downs of being a mom in difficult situations. Bring a box of tissues to this one.
Book: “Carrie” by Stephen King
Mrs. White is the textbook definition of a not good mother. She’s abusive, a religious zealot, violent, and unrelenting, and she makes her teenage daughter Carrie’s life even more a hell than the awful kids as school do. She locks her daughter in a closet when she deems her as misbehaving, she psychologically torments her, and even goes so far as to trying to kill her when Carrie’s powers become impossible to hide. Flat out, she’s one of the worst mothers in literature! But she makes this list because she is the kind of fictional mother who makes those of us with imperfect but good mothers thankful that we have them.
Book: “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
While nowhere near Mrs. White’s levels of bad mothering, Mrs. Bennett is another famous fictional mother who is best known for her…unique parenting tactics. Dead set on marrying off her daughters to the richest gentleman she can find, she’s the heart of most of the comedy in this story. Sadly for her, her high ambitions are met equally with her obnoxious tendencies which often work in direct opposition to her goals. Full of nerves, gossip, and the will to shove her daughters at any eligible gentleman, she’s just lucky that her two eldest girls are charming enough to attract attention in spite of her. She’s definitely one of the more memorable mothers in classic literature and the go-to example for my own mother whenever she wanted an easy out whenever my sister and I complained or were embarrassed: “At least I’m not Mrs. Bennett!”
Book: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” etc.
Molly Weasley is the quintessential mother figure in the Harry Potter series. Lily Potter, obviously, deserves a shout-out as well for her series-making decision to sacrifice her life to save her son. If she hadn’t done that, we wouldn’t even have a book. But in every meaningful way, Molly Weasley is the true mother figure in Harry’s life. And she’s everything cozy, loving, and fierce that one would expect and want from a woman who has 7 children and adopted the friends of many of those children. Throughout the series, we see many sides of this character, from her fears for her family when evil is at their door, to the smaller, domestic moments when she banishes her sons outside to take care of pesky garden gnomes that are continuously invading. And, of course, her shining moment in the last book with her rebel yell “Not my daughter, you bitch!”
Who are some of your favorite mothers from literature? Let us know in the comments!