Mother’s Day Special: Four Amazing Moms in Fiction

It’s Mother’s Day tomorrow! And again, I am missing my mom to death. While my friends are busy arranging lunches and wrapping surprises for the special women in their lives, I’m here thinking about what I’m supposed to do sitting in front of my computer screen 7,250 miles away from her.

So instead of dwelling on all of these things I can do nothing about at the moment, let me share the love by introducing you to some of the best mothers I’ve met between the pages of books so far, and how I love them even more because they are wonderful glimpses of my mother in different reflective surfaces.

In no particular order:

Image via mumsnet.comJess from The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes. I finished this book only minutes ago – which is whey I’m talking about it first – and loved it because of its genuine take on the ups and downs of family life. There was a bit too many pages of romance for my taste, but hey, that’s how it is. Jess is a single mom trying to survive the breadline with her teenage stepson and a precocious math genius of a daughter.

The struggle here between trying to live around their means and the ever-present urge to provide the best for children whose gifts and potential demand nothing less was very real and heart wrenching. She reminded me so much of my own mother and our old life, when she sold sandwiches (also a personal favorite of Jess and her kids) and cupcakes to support us through private school.

image via bookrookreviews.comMrs. Thornton from North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. In the words of her own son: “Sixteen years ago, my father died under very miserable circumstances. I was taken from school, and had to become a man (as well as I could) in a few days. I had such a mother as few are blest with; a woman of strong power, and firm resolve. We went into a small country town, where living was cheaper … Week by week our income came to fifteen shillings, out of which three people had to be kept. My mother managed so that I put by three out of these fifteen shillings regularly. This made the beginning; this taught me self-denial. Now that I am able to afford my mother such comforts as her age, rather than her own wish, requires, I thank her silently on each occasion for the early training she gave me.” 

Mrs. Thornton’s strength and resolve, not to mention her natural maternal jealousy towards the attention any woman gives to her son are both admirable and equally amusing. But let me stop there. I can never do this book justice by trying to put everything I think about it to words.

image via wikipediaRosaleen from The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Although Lily, the main character in this book, is without a mother, she isn’t without a mother figure in her life. And as we can all admit, so do we. Rosaleen’s character is one of those who have been toughened by circumstance yet remain kind and compassionate and generous in spite of – and maybe even because of – all the pain that has been handed to them.

Rosaleen keeps from Lily a secret that she knows would break the little girl’s heart, a secret about her real mother. And although we may argue whether or not it is wrong for parents to withhold certain truths from their children, everything boils down to protecting the flicker of hope and happiness that still lives in a child’s eyes. How kids handle the cold hard truth when they come to realize it is a risk every mother will eventually make.

image via marshall.eduOne of those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies. This last one is a little bit different because at the beginning of the book, the mother dies (Oops, sorry, did I spoil anything?). But I put it here nonetheless because this wonderfully unique novel, which is also written in verse, expresses very eloquently the struggles of a teenage girl losing the mother she loves and eventually discovering a whole new universe – and history – surrounding her.  An excerpt:

Peach Fuzz

When the flight attendant
leans in to ask me
if I’d like something to drink,
and the sun splashes across her face,

I notice
all these tiny little
blond hairs on her cheeks,
and tears rush into my eyes.

My mother had them, too.
I used to tease her about them.
Called it her peach fuzz.
it used to make her laugh.

If i could reach out
and stroke those little hairs
on the flight attendant’s face,
without totally freaking her out,

I’d close my eyes
and I’d do it right now.
I’d touch my mother’s cheek
one more time.

~ for Mom.