Our parents (and by that I mean folks who raise us) are the most important people in our lives. The way we relate to them shapes our relationships with everyone around us and I know I'm lucky because I've always had a good relationship with mine. They're amazing, they're always encouraged me and the only time my Mom ever really tried to push my to change my mind on anything, it was the day before I started my PR job when - in a moment of desperation - she blurted out: "Are you sure you wouldn't rather be a street performer"! She always knew I wouldn't be happy with a desk-job, but that was the only time she really came close to objecting. Most of the time, they just smiled and nodded politely, waiting patiently for the day I'd realise - no, actually, I'm a writer. The day job is just for funding. So, in honour of my Mom and the two other gorgeous Moms in my family (my big sister Roisin and sister-in-law Jenni), here's a run-down of my five favourite Mothers from literature, TV and the movies. Enjoy!
5) Grendel's Mom Beowulf
And no, I'm not talking about the slinky Angelina Jolie version here, I mean the old-school growling, slobbering brute who took out half of Hrothgar's court in a blind furious rage. Sure, she's an evil, deformed abomination-unto-the-Lord and all that (literally! According to the poem, she's the spawn of Old Testament fratricidal maniac Cain) but look at it from her point of view. Your only son heads out to play only to return bleeding to death with his arm pulled off? You wouldn't get just a little bit riled yourself?
|"I ... I loved you in Tomb Raider?"|
My problem with the Angelina Jolie version is that she just seems to want a kid, it didn't have to be that kid. So when Grendel dies, she's just looking for a replacement. It works in the context of the film, but it kind of undermines her grief. To me, Grendel's mom is scariest not because she's a bigger, stronger monster than her son ever was but because, without her son, she's got nothing to lose. All she wants is revenge and, as everyone knows, there's nothing more dangerous than a pissed-off Mom. Which brings us to ...
4) Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton/Lena Hedey) Terminator 2/The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Naturally. Sarah's transformation from jumpy diner waitress in Terminator to all-out action hero in Terminator 2 got a whole generation of teenage boy hot under the collar, and pretty much defined the term 'Mama Grizzly' (even if it was nearly two decades before Ms Palin & co decided to coin it). Sarah's dedication to protecting her son is made all the more poignant by the fact that, as the start of T2, it's led to her losing him. On the other hand, once Sarah realises her son is in danger now, it also leads to one of the most badass escape scenes 13-year old me had ever witnessed, so it's not all terrible. Plus. watching the pair reconnect and mend their fractured relationship as the movie progresses is almost as rewarding as seeing them figure out how to take down Skynet, again.
|Sarah (Linda Hamilton) and John (Edward Furlong) in Terminator 2|
|"Mom, you look ... different." "You too, honey. Just go with it."|
The series was relatively short-lived (two seasons) but enough to give us a sometimes heart-wrenching look at into Sarah's very genuine fears for her son's future, and a chance to see just what kind of tough-love parenting to takes to raise the future saviour of mankind.
3) Molly Weasley (Julie Walters) The Harry Potter books/movies
Oh sure, she looks sweet and kind - and she is. Her strong, supportive character helps raised kids who grow up to be everything from dragon trainers, curse-breakers and government officals. Even the drop-outs become successful entrepreneurs - and the ones still in school help lead the resistence against the evil death-eaters. But just try crossing this cuddly mom-of-seven (and surrogate mom to Harry "the chosen one Potter") and see what happens.
|"It's all fun and games ....|
|... until somebody threatens the kids, b*tch!"|
Hermione got a taste of Molly's matriarchal passive aggressiveness in Goblet of Fire when tabloid journalist Rita Skeeter duped the whole wizarding world into believing the little witch had broken Harry's heart by dumping him for Viktor Krumm (Molly responded by sending a her significantly smaller Easter egg than everyone else got). Poor Ron's been on the receiving end of a couple of his Mom's Howlers (angry, shouting letters) in his time - but in serious badass terms, the best is definitely yet to come. Potter fans everywhere are going to be on the edge of their seats waiting for Molly to get her Ellen Ripley on in the final showdown this July, with Rowling treating Mama Awesome to one of the most kickass moments in the entire series. Here's hoping they keep the one-liner but 'til then, check out this funny little fan-tribute to everyone's favourite magical Mom.
2) Andy's Mom (Laurie Metcalf) Toy Story 1, 2 & 3
Ms. Davis, aka Andy's Mom, is a single mom raising two kids. That deserves some kudos right there but the really interesting thing is this it's never mentioned. Andy does his kid thing, the toys do their toy thing and everything's fine. It's not until you stop to think about it that you realise there's no Dad in the picture. So where is he?
|"Okay, kids - I'll just be here in the background if you need me"|
Well, we don't know. But we do know there's big move on the cards, and a baby sister young enough to need to be carried most of the time. So, whatever happened it's a fair bet it was pretty recent. And the good news? Andy's fine! He must be, because if he wasn't Woody & Co. would know all about it. Kids act out when they're going through a tough time, and even if he's not the kind to go all Sid the Destroyer on his toys his issues would work their games. The toys would at least know enough to be worried about him, and they're not. Which means whatever tough time the Davis family is going through, Andy's Mom is dealing with it well enough to get the kids through it pretty painlessly.
Of course, it's possible to argue there was no Mr Davis or any messy break-up. Maybe Ms Davis was never married, maybe the move is just a coincidence, maybe Andy and Molly have different Dad's, maybe they're both adopted. Who knows? The point is, Ms Davis doing such a stand-up job raising the kids herself it doesn't really matter. She's happy, the kids are happy and, despite the occasional flurry of abandonment issues, the toys are happy. The Toy Story trilogy has a reputation for reducing even the most hard-hearted cynic to tears, mostly because it's a reminder that sometimes life's going to ask us to let go of the things we love most. And whether that's Jessie getting over Emily in Toy Story 2 or Andy's Mom accepting her little boy's all grown-up in Toy Story 3 it's something that strikes a chord in all of us. Here, get your eyes wet:
1) Marge Simpson (Julie Kavner) The Simpsons
This list isn't intended as a countdown - it's not meant to be in order. Still, there was only ever going to be one Mom at the Number One spot, wasn't there? Poor hard-working, long-suffering Marger has spent the last 22 YEARS cleaning up the messes of her three little kids, and one big one. And that's no small task either - over the last two decades she's had to deal with: a homicidal ex-clown with a grudge against her son; a precocious, slightly pretentious eco-warrior daughter who keeps pitting herself against the big guns; a son who's worked for the mob, a burlesque house AND as illegal booze-runner; a baby who may or may not have murderous tendencies, and .... oh, about 440 other little family dramas. And somehow when she finally takes a day off social services decide she's an unfot mother and give the kids to stupid, sexy Flanders!
|"Whatever you do, kids - DON'T. LOOK. DOWN"|
in the guys I've surveyed tells me that Marge has a very solid, albeit slightly messed up place in the hearts of all of us. And, at the end of the day, no matter how the rest of the world sees her, to Bart, Lisa and Maggie, she'll always be the woman who'll go to any lengths to make them happy. No matter how it embarrassing that might be.
Sally Jackson, (Catherine Keener) The Percy Jackson series: Hot enough to pull a sea-god, selfless enough to marry an abusive jerk so his stench would help hide her demi-god son. Now THAT'S love.
Bambi's Mom, Bambi (obviously): Took a bullet for her son, traumatised generations of kids everywhere
Rosemary Prendegast (Patricia Clarkson) Easy A: A little too open with her kids (maybe?) but confessions of a colourful past help daughter Olive realise High School mistakes don't have to define you for the rest of your life.
And some Dishourable Mentions
Margaret White (Piper Laurie) Stephen King's Carrie: A hypocritical religious nut who drives her naive, over-protected daughter to the brink of insanity - which lets the school bullies can push her off.
Lucille Bluth (Jessica Walter) Arrested Development: So. Many. Reasons - but let's just say adopting a kid just to teach her smothered man-child son a lesson isn't going to win any mother of the year awards. And neither's doing it to piss off a business rival.
Medea, Medea: Um, if you don't know, I'm not going to tell you. But it's bad. VERY bad.
So, those are my picks - what about yours? Did I miss anyone? Did I get it wrong? Who's your favourite/least favourite Mom from pop-culture, literature, TV or film?