Saturday, May 12, 2012

Here's to the Moms in Story and in Life

Thanks to Donalyn Miller at Nerdybookclub for calling for favorite book moms.  This call started me thinking about the moms in the books that I have most recently read and the role of the mom character in YA books.  My first reaction to her question was "Are there moms in the books I read?"  I giggled to myself as I posed that question because when our girls were growing up and we shared books I always teased them about how the mom was missing in the story.  I know you have noticed this pattern, the mom is either missing, unable to care for the young adult, or has passed away.  Our running joke was, 'and yet another mom killed off.'  My insightful friend explained to me that by leaving the mom out of the story the characters were free to adventure off into learning and experiencing, finding their own way - the story could take flight.  That makes sense to me.  I just finished reading The Summer of the Gypsy Moths, beautifully written and features two foster children - one mom died in an accident and the other is finding her way.  Meanwhile these two twelve year olds find their way without any adults.
I am just at the beginning of Small as an Elephant, but clearly this mom is missing.

But this is not always the case in YA and I'm glad for the exceptions, especially right now as I am reflecting on the mom characters and what that means to me as a mom.  I have been on a YA quest recently and some of these books have featured incredibly strong mothers.  The kind of mom that you hope you'd be under the same circumstances.  Here is a quick recap of just a few that have stood out:

The Mighty Miss Malone - This mom shows us that no matter what our circumstances, no matter how devastating, we should not compromise our values and we should not lose our faith.  I absolutely loved the lessons these parents instilled throughout the book.

In How to Save a Life the mom is grieving yet she puts her daughter first and listens to her daughter. Together they find a way to put their family back together.  
In Bystander, this single mom works hard to keep her family together and is in touch with her son's feelings and well being.  

The following two moms have to be on my favorite list.  I read Wonder and Out of My Mind as a comparing set- while different, there were strong similarities in these mothers.  They both teach us the truth of being who we are meant to be and to believe in our gifts and purpose.  As a mom, these mothers make me remember to rejoice in the gifts we each have and bring to our family.  I can only hope I would be as strong as they both are.

Thank goodness that not all the moms are missing in YA. There are beautiful moms.  Some quiet to the story, some central strength.  Many remind us to keep teaching and to keep believing.  Some remind us to give our kids some space, a lesson I need from time to time!

And stories remind us that we don't have to be a mom to be a mom! In my life I have been blessed to know that not all moms are "moms" some are aunts, friends, neighbors, teachers etc. who are superb at mothering.  We all know people like this.

So here is to the "moms" those in the stories we read and those in our lives.  These are the ladies who teach us, guide us, support us and remind us to find our way.

1 comment:

  1. Hooray for moms in life and literature!!

    (I finished Summer of the Gypsy Moths--ended up LOVING it!!)