Regardless of how awesome your own mom is, when you can’t be with her, the world of geek culture has many surrogates to offer. This started out as a top ten piece, but honestly, moms have too much judging and competition in their life as it is and the ones we love from our favorite books, movies, and shows shouldn’t have to deal with that crap. It’s hard enough being a mom, let alone being one in the unique circumstances most of these ladies come from. So let’s not rank them, let’s just celebrate them all for the wonderful things they do.
Not only was she mom to Ben Solo, on whom she never gave up, not even after he murdered his father, and her belief in him contributed to his turn back to the light side of the Force, but she was also a mother figure to Rey and a role model to Rose Tico, not to mention she’s basically the mother of the whole damn Rebellion. She dragged the entire universe out from under the thumb of the Empire. She may have lost her son to the Dark Side for a little while, but really that was Luke’s fault. Leia fought every moment of her adult life to give all the universe’s children a safe and peaceful future and that’s a great mom.
Sure, Lily Potter’s love saved her child, but she died because of it and wasn’t there for her child for the rest of his life, which isn’t to say she didn’t do the right thing, but it doesn’t make her mother of the year in the Potterverse. That title goes to Molly Weasley who would go to the ends of the Earth, not only for her own seven children, or even for her adopted children Harry and Hermione, but for ALL the children, standing up to evil by joining the order of the Phoenix and joining in the Battle of Hogwarts. Thank God she had access to magic or managing her own family would have been impossible. But despite having that magical advantage, she still raised her children to be responsible and not overuse their wands unnecessarily. Anytime her family was threatened (i.e., every five minutes), she was at the front of the pack to defend them. And of course, her dual with Belletrix pretty much seals the deal, proving Molly is the ultimate best mom in all of J.K. Rowling’s creation.
Helen Parr (aka Elastigirl)
Most moms figuratively save the day at least once a week. This mom does that and also LITERALLY saves the day as Elastigirl. She manages three kids who are all in different developmental stages, takes care of the home front, deals with the fallout from her husband’s misadventures, eventually joins forces with the whole family to fight crime, and maintains her identity as a woman as well as a mother. I don’t know how she does it all, but I do know she’s truly a supermom.
A strong argument in favor of Nurture over Nature is the case of Kal-El’s adoptive Earth mother. He may have gotten his powers from our yellow sun, but Superman’s will to always help people and do the right thing stems directly from the values he learned from the woman who found a baby in a crashed spaceship in a field and raised him as her own. Imagine if someone with his powers had a crappy mom? That’s a surefire recipe for a supervillain. Metropolis specifically and the world at large in general owes a great deal to this (figurative) super mom.
There are a lot of great animated moms and some not so great ones (I’m looking at you, Mallory Archer). I said I wouldn’t rank them and I won’t, but I do have to give special recognition to this heroine from Disney XD’s recent reboot of the Disney Afternoon classic DuckTales. Maybe as a kid you never questioned why Huey, Dewey, and Louie ended up with miserly old Unca Scrooge, but as an adult I wanted to know what happened to their parents. In season 2 of the reboot, we got our answer. Della is many things, a heroic adventurer and genius inventor among them, but she is none of them moreso than she is a great mother. Unfortunately, she became trapped on the moon with no means of escape or even communication before her sons were hatched. She never gave up and eventually succeeded in returning to them through sheer determination of will, despite impossible odds.
What is it about mothers of the leaders of humanity’s resistance against the greatest threat we’ve ever faced (which we ourselves created) that make us love them so much? I bet you don’t think of the Terminator franchise as the greatest story of motherhood ever told, but there it is. Mothers give us life and then raise us to be strong enough to handle anything life throws at us and it is always from within that our greatest challenges arise, so Sarah raising John to defeat Skynet is pretty much exactly that. Plus she can kick ass, drive fast cars, fire guns, face off against killer robots and would do anything for her son, not just for humanity’s sake, but for his. Textbook great mom, right there.
Look, I know it’s hard to see her as a great mom when she wasn’t around for most of her sons’ lives, but it wasn’t exactly her fault. It’s also hard to see her as a great mom when her death was the catalyst that set her sons on the road to a hard life of killing monsters and demons, dying, going to hell and being revived multiple times, and rarely having any shred of happiness of their own. But, when she was finally brought back from the dead, a reward fulfilling her son Dean’s dearest wish, she did her best to make it right. She understood what an impact her death and absence had on her boys and tried to make it up to them. She stuck by them in the hunters’ life that she never wanted for them. She didn’t hesitate to sacrifice herself for them when the opportunity arose. That’s about the best mom you could hope for when you’re constantly facing the end of the world, as we all sometimes feel we are.
For a character created in the early 1980s, she sure does stand up as a feminist icon of today. She chose her career over gallivanting off with Kirk, taking their son with her because she knew what was best for him. She raised that son on her own to be a brilliant scientist just like her. And, as if being a good single mom wasn’t enough, she devoted her work to a project for the good of all humanity and begrudgingly accepted help from the last person she wanted to trust in order to save that work from being used for evil. She did what was best for herself, for her son, and for the universe at large, just like any good mom would.
Poor Joyce is drawn as a pathetic figure, with a marriage that didn’t work, a rundown home, a sad excuse for a job, and, when her son disappears under strange circumstances, an image of being the town loony. But Joyce does what any good mom does, she never gives up on her son and does whatever it takes to get him back no matter the cost, no matter how it makes her look. She puts up with Hopper’s toxic masculinity to get the help she needs and in the end, guess what? She wasn’t crazy, her son really was trapped by a monster in a parallel universe. (#believewomen) As the series goes on, she appears to be the only parent really invested in any of these kids lives and continues to kick ass and make changes to improve her and her family’s lives. Frankly, despite every attempt to make her look like a Hot Mess Mom, she is actually Mom of the Year in Hawkins.
Say what you want about Jackie. She’s loud, she’s whiny, she’s trashy, she’s obsessed with money. But she’s also exactly the mom you’d expect to get when her sullen young adult daughter comes home after her workplace mysteriously explodes, offers very little information, disappears for months with no contact, and every time she reappears, everything around her erupts into danger. But above all else. She [CLAP] Loves [CLAP] Her [CLAP] Daughter [CLAP]. The Doctor, well at least Nine, may despise getting “domestic,” but Jackie steamrolls right past that to demand a promise of safety for her daughter. That motherly concern is infectious and ends up influencing the Doctor to go back to caring about humans and considering Earth as a second home, rather than just carousing through the universe after the trauma of the Time War. Jackie may be obnoxious to everyone around her, but she knows what matters and she makes sure the people around her care about it too, no matter what attitude they give her.
The list of great moms in our favorite stories goes on and on and I didn’t have room to include them all. Honorable mention to Joyce Summers, Ellen Ripley, Rowena McCloud, Amanda Grayson, and all the other wonderful maternal figures I left out. I’d love to hear about your favorite moms, real or otherwise, especially those who are women of color (on whom I’m embarassingly undereducated on). Happy Mother’s Day to all you great geek mamas out there!