Every parent, I think, has role models. Back in 2000, when my children were quite young and the world didn’t end with Y2K after all, I found fictional mother who I adored.
She wasn’t my first. The first fictional mother who I fell in love with was Mrs. Murray from A Wrinkle In Time. She’s smart, beautiful, independent, and her serene exterior masks a woman with nerves of steel. The only trouble with Mrs. Murray is that she’s a little too perfect. I like my fictional characters with a flaw or three. This probably contributed to my falling head over heels for Elaine Miller (as played by Frances McDormand) in Almost Famous.
Yes, yes, I know that she let her fifteen year old go on a road trip with a rock band. I certainly did not let either of my children go on tour with a rock band at fifteen (they’re seventeen and twenty now). Alas, it’s not merely movie hyperbole, as the movie is based on the life of Cameron Crow who did indeed go on tour with a Rock Band when he was a teenager. It was the 70s, when our mothers used to let us play in the street as well. Different times. Even so, it was a super important lesson: Trust your kids. Let them open their wings and fly. Be their support net, but let them fly on their own.
The movie boy, William, is fearless because he’s fifteen years old and full of himself. Elaine isn’t fearless. She knows what can go wrong, and yet she lets William go follow his dream while still being a fierce mama bear. Various people in the movie end up saying to William: “Your mom kinda freaks me out.” She’s a Goethe quoting, healthy eating, political activist monster mom whose flaws are legion. That William grows up and turns out wonderfully is a reassurance to all of us who will never manage to be the stereotypical Mrs. Cleaver style mom or the impossibly perfect Mrs. Murray.
Of course I have more realistic, real life parenting role models. I suspect that most parents do. But do you have a secret, fictional, over-the-top parenting role model as well? I’d love to know that I’m not alone. P.S. I’ve never actually quoted Goethe at my children or their friends. Seneca or Marcus Aurelius, maybe. . .