Mothers: Most people have them. Some could do without them (especially teenagers), while others long for that missing maternal figure. Mothers can be annoying, naggers and just plain embarrassing, but they are often just there, waiting until they are needed.
Many mothers spend years worrying whether they’re doing it right, while a tiny minority seem to breeze happily through the years, enjoying every moment. There are momentary mothers whose maternal time is cut short and carers who have never given birth, but are mothers in every other way.
This Mother’s Day, I’ve searched through my favourite reads to find slightly left-of-centre Mums. Some are ill, even bedridden, others walk away, their influence hovering in the background. Others disappear for good. The more mundane mums keep out of the limelight, but are always within reach, just in case.
Through the timeless art of story telling, children can experience what it might be like to have a different sort of mother figure. Below is a start-up list of books that offer a variety of alternative mothers (and grandmothers).
My Mum Says the Strangest Things by Katrina Germein and Tom Jellett (Walker Books, $24.95) is a picture book with punch. People say a lot of things they don’t really mean and this book sums up a lot of what we mothers say without realising it. My favourite is: My Mum says ‘Don’t use the toilet. I’ve just cleaned it.’
here) hides her love behind a gruff exterior.
here) is instrumental in pushing her boy just a little bit further than he thinks he can go.
here) is helpless to make things better for her girl, no matter how hard she tries.
here) Mei misses her father who has died, but also all the farm animals, which Mei’s Mum, still lost in grief, has disposed of. Mei’s journey back to happiness and hope is a rocky one when she finds two baby chickens and decides to keep them, against her mother’s wishes.
here). Forced to flee for their lives, they struggle to adapt to the strange new culture of Alabama. A story of loss and grief and longing for what was, while learning to adapt to what is.
KBR review) is one of my all-time favourites. Opal wonders why her Momma went away. Her daddy, the preacher struggles to talk about it. Through the finding of a lost dog and Opal’s irrepressible nature, answers, healing and acceptance are found.
Mums Who Have Died