Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mother’s Day and Fairy Tales

I was recently a guest at Ravencon, a science fiction/fantasy convention held in Richmond, VA this year.  I participated in a number of panels and got to attend others.  Possibly the most interesting of those I attended was one that talked about recent books that are really updated fairy tales.

Me and my Mother in 2010
at my youngest daughter's wedding
The talk covered a lot of ground, including a number of comparisons between the changing roles of women.  Frozen is emblematic of a new paradigm in fairy tales, where the handsome prince isn’t a hero, and true love doesn’t necessarily mean romantic love.

The talk also noted that loving, caring mothers are something of a rarity in fairly tales, especially of the Grimm variety. Instead we get a slew of evil step-mothers, the anti-mother, if you will. And even that stereotype is being re-examined as well, witness the recent Maleficent.

As I was thinking on this, I remembered that tomorrow is Mother’s Day. My own mother died several years ago, and I still miss her terribly.  I don’t know that she was a perfect mother, but she was a darned good one.  Sometimes I don’t know how she made it through raising six kids with her sanity intact, but she did and was a wonderful grandmother and great-grandmother as well.

She and my Dad married right after the end of World War II and I was born a couple of years later, making me part of the early generation of baby boomers. I’m also the oldest of their six kids, and I certainly wasn’t the easiest.

Although she had tremendous musical talent, my mom chose not to pursue it as a career, though I don’t think family was the real reason for that. She often said that the business was just too cut-throat for her and she didn’t have the ruthlessness to succeed. That, I have no doubt, is true. I do have a treasured recording of her singing a couple of pieces from the light operas and show tunes she loved. She had a remarkable soprano range. Only when I asked did she tell me that she had a three and a half octave range and could hit A over C.  Actually she was a little chagrinned that she never managed to really nail that high C.

I don’t think she ever regretted not pursuing a musical career, or any career other than mother, for that matter. Although she worked as a secretary for a while, it was just a job, something to keep her busy. Once I came along, she settled down happily as a mother and homemaker.

I don’t think she ever entirely understood why I wasn’t satisfied to do the same, but they paid for my college education, nonetheless. I married early, had children early, and as soon as the youngest one went back to school, I went back to grad school to get a computer degree.  (Didn’t get it by the way.  One of my instructor’s offered me a job with his company, and the offer was too good to resist.  I guess you could say I’m a grad school dropout.)  Times have changed the world has changed, and the view of women’s role has changed.

Nonetheless, I hope my own children regard me as highly as I do my own mother.  She was a gem.

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