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  • Joel Ryan

Favorite Fictional Moms: #6-10

The journey to motherhood is as unique as the children born around the world each and every day. Some moms planned to become moms from an early age. Many moms inherited their responsibilities unplanned or unexpectedly. Some moms tried for years to become moms. Others became moms only to suffer the loss of a child along the way. There are many moms who were never able to have children of their own. This didn't stop them from loving and caring for children who needed a mother's touch. Regardless of the how that brought a woman into motherhood, to be a mom is a very special role in life, worthy of every gift, cute card, bouquet, and blessing.

So in honor of moms, I wanted to look at some of my Favorite Fictional Moms, who each remind us why moms are the real heroes of this world:

10. M – Skyfall

Not every Bond movie is created equal, but Judi Dench, in typical Dame Judi Dench fashion, brought gravitas to even her worst written scenes in the James Bond franchise, which she joined in 1995 as M, the calculating, assertive leader of British Intelligence and Bond’s boss.

In Skyfall, arguably the best-written film in the Bond franchise, the battle between Bond (Daniel Craig) and the film's main antagonist Silva (Javier Bardem) revealed something new about M. This was a fight between brothers, a current and former agent. And what better way to link two brothers than explore their relationship with the closet thing they have to a mom, M. M was the link between Bond's past and present. She recruited him, invested in him, believed in him, trusted him, empowered him, and relied on him to get the job done. M wasn't blind to Bond's flaws. But like any good mom, she recognized his strengths and potential when few others could.

OO agents were never supposed to form attachments. That’s what made them such lethal killers. But in Skyfall we see that Bond has become attached to someone. And what do the writers do? Threaten to take away the one consistent relationship Bond has. How far is he willing to go to protect the woman, imperfect as she may be, who made him who he is? But as much as the double-O life had fractured Bond's soul, M was probably one of the few who cared enough to try and preserve it.

9. Jill Taylor – Home Improvement

Jill Taylor, played by the unbelievably well-cast Patricia Richardson, makes this list for modeling more patience and forgiveness as a wife and mother than most women in television history. With an accident-prone husband addicted to “more power” (Tim Allen) and three lovable hooligans for sons, Jill ran the Taylor house with confidence, assertiveness, and a truckload of grace.

Not many men could blow up the dishwasher or drop a five-ton-beam on their wife’s car and still even have a wife. Still, Jill forgave Tim even after his biggest mistakes. She was no Edith Bunker and no pushover either. She expressed frustration over Tim’s antics and called him out when he was in the wrong, but she never belittled her husband or treated him like a moron even when he made moronic mistakes. Jill supported Tim in his goals, pursued her own, and always spoke well of her husband in front of their sons, a unique trait for sitcom mothers in the Married with Children era of television.

In a house overflowing with testosterone, Jill also fostered an environment where her boys could become men each in their own way, and that didn’t mean becoming clones of Tim the Tool Man Taylor.

8. Claire Huxtable – The Cosby Show

It’s hard to imagine any television mom who was more of a force both in and outside of the home than Claire Huxtable (Phylicia Rashad).

In The Cosby Show, Claire was every bit Cliff’s equal and life partner. A successful lawyer and outspoken feminist, she was articulate, strong willed, and treated her husband and children with honesty and respect. Claire was a woman of power who showed audiences what it looked like to balance a successful career with a thriving home life.

When it came to her children, Claire was the absolute matriarch and master of the family. She never demanded respect, but boy did she earn it. She spoke the truth, stood her ground, and never tried to be her child’s best friend. Claire was there to teach her children how to become competent, respectful adults, and that sometimes meant telling them no. In doing so, Claire helped her children navigate childhood while equipping them for the future. And we will always love her for teaching her children (and us) how to respect and be respected, particularly as a woman.

Claire Huxtable was the television mom we all needed and a voice to many different communities of America, male and female, black and white.

7. Aunt May – Spider-Man

Apart from Marisa Tomei’s Spider-Man: Homecoming May, Aunt May has traditionally been the “elderly” aunt who took on parenting duties following the death of Peter Parker’s parents when he was a boy. Together with Uncle Ben, May helped raise one of the greatest teen superheroes of my generation. But unlike Alfred caring for the heir to a billion-dollar corporation or Jonathan and Martha Kent parenting an alien superman, the Parkers were just trying to raise a normal kid in the suburbs of New York.

While Uncle Ben’s death was instrumental in helping Peter Parker become the “Incredible” Spider-Man, May’s practical and gentle touch inspired the “Friendly Neighborhood” Spider-Man New York needed. Ben may have given Peter the famous words about power and responsibility, but it was Aunt May was his moral compass and reminder of what he was fighting for: home.

People can grow up in a house, an apartment, a trailer, or move a lot. They can stay in one place their entire life or move around a lot. But as I’ve learned from my own grandmother, home is not the where but the who.

6. Marilla Cuthbert – Anne of Green Gables

In L.M. (Maud) Montgomery’s delightful book series, Marilla Cuthbert and her older brother Matthew run a small farm called Green Gables in the fictional town of Avonlea on Price Edward Island. When the physical duties of the farm became too strenuous for the middle-aged pair, they decided to adopt a boy to help out around the farm. Due to a mistake at the orphanage, what they got instead was a girl.

Enter high-spirited, dramatic, and fanciful Anne Shirley.

Marilla wasn’t a great mother to start because, well, she had no desire to even be a mom. What I think we respect about her though, due in large part to the honesty of Montgomery’s writing, is that Marilla grew into the role and learned as she went. No mom is perfect or fully equipped at the start, but instead of giving up or throwing in the towel, Marilla stayed a mom because she learned to love and care about the wild, imperfect, yet beautiful child in her care. Anne was no easy child to raise, but rather than suppress or tame Anne’s imaginative personality, as previous foster parents had done, Marilla eventually embraced Anne for who she was. She never let Anne run wild, but instead channeled and focused Anne’s best energies to empower her to become her best self.

That’s it for Part 1. Check back in a few days to see who made the Top 5 on my Favorite Fictional Moms list, and as always, please feel free to hit the heart or subscribe to Perspectives off the Page for content updates and new perspectives.

Until Today, Storytellers