It’s almost Mother’s Day. If you don’t know that, get thee to a greeting card store and a florist or chocolatier or jeweler ASAP. As mothers, we might be campaigning for a whole weekend, not just a day.
We thought we’d take this opportunity to honor 5 Awesome Moms who can be found in the pages of some of our favorite children’s books:
If you’ve ever met my kids, it would be no wonder why I identify with moms of feisty kids in children’s literature. Sure, the focus of the story is on the character of the energetic child, but the mom is usually not too far behind in the background, ready to help patch up whatever fiasco is the latest adventure for her child. In that vein, I gotta give props to the mom in the Olivia books by Ian Falconer. In both the books and the animated show, Olivia is a bit of a handful, to say the least, and her mother stays way more cool, calm, and collected than I ever seem to be able to do. But when she says, “You know, you really wear me out. But I love you anyway,” I understand the sentiment all too well.
I know we said five moms up there, but it’s just too hard to pick between Clementine‘s mom in Sara Pennypacker’s delightful series and her forerunner, Mrs. Quimby of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series. Can’t you imagine them meeting in some alternate children’s literature universe, having a cup of coffee and making each other laugh over their daughters’ antics? They both manage to take each new surprise, sometimes with grace, and sometimes more like the rest of us. You’ve got to appreciate Clementine’s understanding of her mother’s reaction: “It’s a very bad sign when my mother can’t finish her sentences.” Yup, I agree.
Much as I adore the mom in the Ramona series (it was on my list, too!), the first mom I think of when I think of great moms in books is the mama rabbit in The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown. My children can be trying sometimes – especially lately around bedtime as the temperatures are rising and the sun is sticking around – but I love them to pieces. That unconditional love that will never go away is such a hallmark to me of great parenting. It’s the calm and patience that I aim for with my own children. I love that the mom is there always for her baby, and yet she lets the baby bunny explore getting away, without her becoming upset with him. She deflects with humor, meeting his every challenge with love and acceptance. I’ve been there too many times to count with the “But what if I…” scenarios and my own children. Rarely, have I responded with such grace.
For me, a great literary mom is one who isn’t perfect, because goodness knows real moms aren’t, but strives to meet her kids’ needs. And often, like in real life, that means putting herself last. So Mrs. Peters from one of my older son’s favorite books, The Seven Silly Eaters by the fabulous Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrated by the equally fabulous Marla Frazee, came to mind for this topic. Mrs. Peters’ kids have unusual eating habits, to say the least. One only likes warm milk — not hot, not cold — and the next eschews milk entirely for pink lemonade. Homemade pink lemonade. As more children arrived, their demands became more specific, not to mention more strenuous. And Mrs. Peters willingly, if a bit grudgingly, peels pounds of applesauce, repeatedly strains oatmeal, kneads endless piles of dough for bread, and poaches and fries dozens of eggs. Finally her birthday comes around and Mrs. Peters is just plain tired. Who can blame her? So the kids decide to surprise her by combining all of their favorite ingredients into one special breakfast. Ok so this turned into a book review instead of why Mrs. Peters is a great mom, though I think that does come through as well.
The final mama we want to honor is Llama Llama’s mama. Llama is your typical child who likes to throw a good tantrum, from working himself into a meltdown when his mama doesn’t bring his water right away to boredom while shopping, even separation anxiety his first day of preschool. Mama Llama doesn’t always notice his distress right away — after all, she’s a busy mama — but she’s always able to calm him without herself getting upset. Something I wish I could do sometimes!
I’m adding this as a bonus 6th, because I can’t honestly say that Carl’s mom in Good Dog, Carl is awesome, or can I? She left her baby with the dog, the dog who took great care of her, gave her a good time, fed her a snack, and cleaned up! I only wish I had such good luck with babysitters.