We saw Divergent last weekend. It took me a second to grasp that Ashley Judd is the older, plainer mom, not the dazzling, young heroine. Oh yeah, we’re abnegating moms; we wear gray sack dresses and don’t look in mirrors. But in the second part of the movie when she appears at a time of crisis with a really big gun in hand, Tobey leaned over with a triumphant grin, “She’s a kick ass mom!” He knows how much I love kickass moms.
The screen is full of awful moms, absent moms, crazy moms, narcissistic moms, passive-agresive moms, dead moms, vapid moms. Too few are the ones who are baring their authentic, imperfect souls. Here are a few who inspire me and offer a mirror.
1. I cry every time I watch the parachute scene from The Incredibles. Holly Hunter, aka Helen Parr, aka Elastagirl, flies the plane, expects the most of her children (“Create a force field around the whole plane!”), and then envelopes them with love to soften the landing.
2. Keep your inner geek real.
Mrs. Weir (Freaks and Geeks) makes me cringe – please, lord, never let me be that geeky of a mom. And yet, she kept it real. She wore her love on her sleeve, and she always wanted the best for her kids. She sparkled when they sparkled, and deflated when they were in pain. When Lindsay runs away to a Dead concert in the final episode, lying to her parents about going to the gifted and talented summer camp, you cheer for her freedom — but my mind instantly went to her mom. Part of me was that 16-year old girl, lighting her own path; more of me was the 40-something mom worried for her daughter.
3. Dig deep.
I was never an ongoing Judging Amy viewer, but I happened on to it a number of times just when I needed Tyne Daily’s strong mama the most. One night, she helped a wayward friend of Amy’s give birth in an inflatable birthing pool in the backyard. She waded in, held the woman, and created a container of strength for what could have been a terrifying situation. I sobbed.
Sure she was an oddball and an occasional doormat, but Rush Fisher (Six Feet Under) evolved, and she wasn’t afraid to do it in front of her children. She lost her husband, inherited an odd family business, tried to understand and support three very different kids, fell in love again, and learned about herself. She went forward with humility and became more beautiful as the show went on.
5. Feed, clothe, and curse when you need to.
“You will never touch our children again!” So speaketh Mrs. Weasley, the mom who knitted ill-fitting sweaters, waited up for her family to materialize in the fireplace, provided the only mothering Harry Potter ever knew, and got to utter the most famously grown up venom in the entire series, “Not my daughter, you bitch!