I have a theory I’m going to throw out here. I’m probably not the first to think of this, but I want to write it down anyway. Librarians and mothers often complain about the abundance of middle-grade novels in which the mom has died, and don’t get us started on all those princess movies where the princess is motherless.
Just the other day – either on Facebook or in an advertisement in e-mail – I saw a tea towel that said “OMG My Mom Was Right About Everything.” And click: This may be why moms have to disappear for a little while (or, more simply in these books, just not be there). The character needs to grow and find herself. How can she do that if mom is there and mom is always right? So, let’s kill off mom.
We know when our kids reach a certain age that we must cut those apron strings (standing in for the umbilical cord). Wouldn’t it be nice to find a children’s book instead where the mom and daughter go through that process? I’m sure those books are out there. I just haven’t found them yet.
There are some other books in which the mom is totally clueless and these are problematic too. But I kind of get it. Of course the teen is going to think mom is clueless. Duh. But let’s not take it too far. I finished Under the Egg last night by Laura Marx Fitzgerald last night and in that book the mom is portrayed as worse than clueless – she’s a genius who locks herself in her room to work on her math dissertation and has been doing so for more than 10 years. She is unaware that she and her daughter have no money and/or food. I had wanted to read this book for a long time, so my feelings are probably tempered by the fact that I had been looking forward to it and it didn’t meet my expectations. The plot was kind of interesting, but not totally believable. The child-like mom just added to my disappointment.
So, I guess I have a project: Find a book where mom and daughter go through some sort of growth together. It has to be out there.