Monday, May 13, 2013

Fictional Moms

A post on Christine Amsden's blog got me thinking about fictional mothers (as did Mother's Day) and which ones I enjoy, or at least could relate to.

The first that came to mind was Captain Cordelia Naismith of Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan universe. Yes, I mention these books a lot, but I love them. If you read the first two books in the series, which are bundled together in Cordelia's Honor, then you get to witness her transformation from captain of a starship to mother. It's difficult to describe without providing oodles of spoilers, but trust me when I tell you that you don't want to mess with this woman. Anyhow, she's intelligent, brave, and diplomatic in her own special way. While the reader doesn't get to witness her in mothering action with a young Miles (the series, from his point of view, begins when he is 17 years old), the reader does get to see the repercussions of his having a mother from a different planet, and one who was a ship's captain in a time and society where most women lived according to more conservative standards.

I also want to mention Claire Beauchamp Randall, a character in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. I gave up on the series after four books, incidentally, because (1) too many coincidences began to happen, and (2) I started to dislike the characters for a variety of reasons. Spoiler alert! If you plan to read the series and you don't want to know a thing that happens, then skip to the next paragraph. So, Claire is a complex character to begin with, and motherhood definitely adds another layer to that. She ends up married to a man she used to love (but doesn't any longer) while pregnant with another man's child. While her daughter is an infant, Claire attends medical school. Claire is stretched thin, thin, thin. She struggles with her marriage, motherhood, and school, all while dreaming of the man she truly loves. And eventually, she leaves her adult daughter to return to her true love.

I enjoy reading about motherhood when it's done right. I enjoy saying, "Yes, that's how it is!" I don't like reading about women who are perfect or who simply exist to rub their hands gleefully as they plot evil things. I like messy, complex women who have to deal with colicky babies or temper tantrums while they're trying to accomplish whatever it is they want, or while trying to hold together their relationships or achieve things at work, because that's how life is, and anyone who finds things coming too easily to them just makes me want to roll my eyes.

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