“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”Gilda Radner

Monday, November 14, 2011

Best Fictional Moms

Here are some of my "Mom" role models: Andy's Mom (Toy Story). Caroline Ingalls.  The Wicked Stepmother (Cinderella).  June Cleaver.  And of course, all the real-life moms I've been surrounded by my whole life: my grandma, my aunts, family friends, my sister, and my own off-the-charts Mom.

I think there's a recipe for greatness.  I don't have any idea about what turns out good humans as I'm only a beginner, but I definitely am learning what it takes just to survive being a mom and to do a decent daily job of it.  It is a combination of the people I've named above.  Without shooting glory at anyone I actually know (the real-life moms), I'll just point out a few of the more admirable qualities in the fictional matrons.  (I know Caroline Ingalls actually lived, but be real here: I'm totally zeroing in on the TV series one played by Karen Grassle.)

Andy's Mom from Toy Story.  What makes her great?  Well, for starters, she's a single mom but doesn't let it drag her down.  In the first movie, she's moving her children to a better neighborhood (she's successful).  In the second movie, she refuses to sell Woody to Al (of Al's Toy Barn) despite his generous offer.  In the third movie, we see the amazing person she has raised: a kind yet sentimental young man who's going off to college.  Andy's Mom is patient, she has a sense of humor, she's firm, and she really, really loves her children.  And they know it.  She's also fun.  She let Andy leave those birthday decorations up even after his party was over in Movie 1.

Caroline Ingalls.  Where do I begin?  Seriously, this is the woman who made it a joy to be "Mom" when you played house as a kid.  I remember when I scored the coveted role, I'd instantly bun my hair and smile serenely.  So is that it?  Her serenity?  But we mustn't forget how much she laughed, the way her eyes danced so merrily at the husband she loved so much or the way her girls constantly surprised her.  She was firm: homework and Bible study every day.  And of course, she could cook.  She opened her own restaurant for goodness sake!  How progressive!  And like Andy's Mom: she always put her family first.  They knew she cared.

The Wicked Stepmother.  Perhaps you thought I was kidding?  Not at all.  I actually believe there has to be a point where the children fear you.  I'm not confusing this with respect at all, which is quite nice on its own.  I mean that when things go too far (and they generally do with children, at some point or another), a tone in my voice and an expression on my face needs to put a healthy fear of God (and me)  in my boys so that they will stop, drop, and be silenced.  There's a lot of hype about how children should want to be good, do well, and succeed for themselves.  That's all well and good, but there needs to be a starting point where simply learn to do the things first.   And I really begins that starts with a fear of, "What will Mom say?" 

June Cleaver.  Patient, kind, loving, a good cook.  But also, she looked really good day after day.  I think that counts for a lot.  Take care of yourself, too--it gives you the energy and the willpower to maintain all the other qualities necessary for successful mothering.

Fictional Moms I'm not that into: Carol Brady.  Auntie Em (not a mom, but in the role nonetheless).  And what's up with the mom in Sleeping Beauty?  It's not selfless to send your infant daughter off with addle-brained fairies (much as I enjoy watching the movie).  It's stupid.  Fake your own death and escape with the daughter in the night.  Raise her yourself in the woodcutter's cottage.  Or maybe that's just the control freak in me.

Now for the confession.  I'm not always patient.  Sometimes I'm more Wicked Stepmother than Caroline Ingalls.  Sometimes, I just wear sweatpants and think, "Screw you, June."  But these are the faces swirling in my mind when I'm wondering, "What do I want to look like to my children?  How do I want them to perceive me?"

There are days when Joey grumbles, "Get Mom some coffee."  When Noah says, "You're a MEAN Mommy!"  And there are even days when my husband says, "Geez, Mar."

But I was feeling pretty good tonight when we were superhero-ing ourselves at bedtime.  Joey said, "My superpower would be my IMAGINATION!"

Noah said, "My superpower is my--" he leapt into the air and landed with jazz hands, "DANCE MOVES."

"What's mine?" I asked them.

"Your love," said Joey.  "It's your magic power that keeps us safe."

I may not be perfect at it, but I really love being a Mom.

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