Mother Where Art Thou? By Aisha Almazro

Mother Where Art Thou

I have always acknowledged the power of literature, it can take you places, it can influence who you become in the future, one book can simply change who you are. Thus, I have always believed in the importance of introducing literature to children, as much as we can. Literature mixes perfectly with children’s wide imagination. Yet, after becoming a mother, my outlook to children’s literature has completely changed. I have begun to question if the literature we grew up with is the right one for our children to grow with as well because of the simple fact that every literature, every classical fairytale has always misses one thing, the biological mother. Therefore, I want to explore the classical tales and the modern ones in the hopes of trying to find the mothers in them and how they differ.

New worlds that are introduced to children can enrich their lives, their imagination. Children are always drawn to magical worlds where animals talk and men fly. We can see the stories they read reflect through their action, how they imitate what they read, how their idols are always the heros in the stories. However, these fairytales have always forgot the most important person in every child’s life, the mother. Fairytales lack the role of the mother, the hero always suffered the loss of the his or her mother by death, writers favorite fate to end the mothers character. A child is never exposed to the mother-child relationship, never shown the maternal love. Even though children growing up are influenced by their mother and she is the closest to them in their childhood. Yet, stories have always forgot this point.

If you asked an adult and a child nowadays about their favorite fairytale, the first thing that would come to their mind is one of the classical ones, girls will choose the stories with beautiful princess who marries the prince and boys will choose those with a reckless hero who wins against evil eventually. Yet, why is the mother not included? Why do writers tend to exclude her from the picture. For example, when we look at one of the classical tales of all time, Cinderella.

She is an unhappy girl who’s mother was dead and her father married a widow with two daughters, the story as they say, is a fairy tale history. When we look at such a famous world-wide tale and what it teaches, first of all, Cinderella’s story starts without any indication of her relationship with her mother, the sacred bond is slaughtered before it begins. However, she is exposed to an “evil” stepmother and step sisters. Thus, her journey begins in search of escaping her misery by trying to “fall in love” and marry the prince, the solution all heroines try to accomplish. This plot makes me wonder what are we teaching our children by it?

The story killed the mother, her bond, the maternal feelings between her and the child from the beginning. Thus, the child learn to exclude the relationship just like the story did, and focuses on the evilness, cruelty, unkindness and unfairness that is coming from the stepmother and her daughters. Not only the motherhood relationship is excluded, but also the sisterhood is devastated as well. If we are looking at the story from a child’s perspective, of what exactly the story is telling him, we see that first the stepmother, the closest mother figure to the hero, to be evil, it shows them that those who care about you can turn to be unkind and unfair. The same goes to the sisters who treats the heroin badly without any reason why, children learn that you may be mistreated for no reason. Thus, Rebellions is the only way for an adventure. Over all, what lessons the story is teaching then? it sure does not present the mother the closest giving person to a child, the fairness she deserves,, one might argue about the godmother but she is still far from being realistic, but yet we were told and still tell the magical story of Cinderella that lacked the magic of motherhood.

If we look at the modern fairytales, they are far from the princess and her prince, from innocence and sweetness. Modern fairy tales have became more complex in characters, more deep and yet, children are still enchanted by them. The modern fairytales have addressed the children readers more maturely, the way children should be addressed but it kept the elements of a good fairytales, by having magic, adventure, heros and heroins, the love and rebellions as well. For example, Harry Potter, one of the well known tales around the world. Harry Potter can be considered a fairy tale, or as professor Daumer sees it, the male Cinderella. it is a fairytale for the magic that wraps the story all together and the adventurous characters that pulls the children to read this story. Yet, are modern fairytales similar to the classical ones regarding what it intend to teach children about their mothers?

When we look at Harry potter, the story of the wizard going through his adventures in the Wizarding world fighting evil and making friends. Even though our hero is orphan, yet his mother and the mothers theme are empowered throughout the story. For example, Harry does not know his mother, but he knows she sacrificed her life for him, he know that sacrifice was the invisible force behind his strength to fight evil “Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign … to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever. (…) It was agony to touch a person marked by something so good.” (Philosopher’s stone P17)

Harry’s mother is not the only mother in the story, there is also Mrs. Weasley, Harry’s best friend’s mother, she is shown as the caring kind mother who showers her kids with love and kindness, kissing them goodbye and always asks about their being, and when they were in danger “NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH” she was the ultimate protection every mother turn to when her children are in danger. Finally, there is Malfoy’s mother, who is even though the mother of an evil son and the wife of an evil man, still loves her son unconditionally, she remind us of Harry’s mother, she sacrificed her life by lying to Voldemort just to see her son. These are all examples of different mothers to different characters, yet they all share the same strong sacred bond to their children.

This makes us question the difference between the classical fairytales and the modern ones. In my opinion, there is a reason why they differ. First of all the writers simply differ. For example, Harry Potter was written by J.K Rowlling, a mother who knew what parenting is, knew

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the bond and the importance of it to children and parents and thus, indulged that theme throughout the story with different characters, it teaches our kids that no matter how good, bad, poor or rich you are, you are still loved by your mother, she is someone who is willing to sacrifice her life to you and she is one who should be looked up to. Not only it teaches our children but also the parents to acknowledge and appreciate the maternal bond between them.

Finally, psychologists, specially Bruno Bettelheim who wrote “The Uses of Enchantment” Argues with the fact that classical ones were written without any parental figure just because it helps children to be more independent and see their hero on his own

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going through a journey to fight evil people. Psychologists believes that presenting such evilness and dis-attachm them from their comfort, their mothers helps them mature and prepare them to the real world. Introducing such dark themes to develop a sense of meaning and purpose since it allowed them to “grapple with their fears in remote, symbolic terms.” I also notice how children have always behaved in a way that they reach a point where they try to imitate adults and having your mother taking care of you is not much of adult act, and that is why those motherless heros are more appealing to children who want to relate to those characters. In my opinion, a story can be appealing to children by having the adventurous characters and enchant them by magic and still have the mother in the story line like Harry Potter, the modern fairytales have empowered the role of the mother, yet the classical ones seemed to have abolished her role completely.

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