Not to brag, but I won the cosmic lottery when it comes to moms. My mom is the actual best mother in the history of the known universe. But even with such cause to celebrate her magnificence, I find the Hallmarky saccharine brand of hoopla just, well, gross. If you’re as #done with consumerist schmaltz as I am and looking for a new angle of mother appreciation (or want to feel better about your own mothering), check out these books featuring my picks for top five worst moms in literature:
5) Mrs. Bennet
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
By Jane Austen
Trying to get five daughters married off before your husband dies and leaves you all penniless would be enough stress to drive anyone to the brink, and I sympathize, truly, but not enough to overlook the hot mess of a mother that is Mrs. Bennet. Mrs. Bennet lacks tact, maturity, and indeed any sense of shame. It’s not like she doesn’t know how to behave, she just doesn’t much care. You think she would, you know, being so worried about her daughters’ futures, but alas, no such luck.
Yikes Level: PERMANENT HAND-SHAPED BRUISE ON MY FOREHEAD FROM FACEPALMING
4) Cersei Lannister
SONG OF ICE AND FIRE SERIES (Game of Thrones)
By George R.R. Martin
(1996 - present)
In this series, bad dads outnumber the bad moms by a LOT, but what few there are sure go for gold. First there’s Cersei, the queen, a spoiled, entitled, scheming woman who cares for no one but her children. Unfortunately that motherly love doesn’t do much good in the way of actual parenting; her eldest son is, in a word, monstrous. Maybe he’s born that way or maybe it’s parenting, but we’ll never know, since Cersei refuses to think ill of her precious princeling.
Yikes Level: LOSE YOUR VOICE SCREAMING “SHAME!”
3) Margaret White
By Stephen King
The sins of the fathers – or mother in this case – don’t rest upon the child’s head but they sure can make an impact. Margaret is a glaring advertisement for therapy and forgiving yourself. Consumed with guilt after becoming pregnant at age 17, Margaret takes everything to the fanatic extreme – with a capital F E. Poor Carrie is basically set up for failure between her mother’s abuse and bullying at school.
Yikes Level: ALL THE YIKES
2) The Other Mother
By Neil Gaiman
No, I’m not mom-shaming Coraline’s actual mother. The “other mother” through the portal in the wall is the one you should watch out for. That manipulative, murderous, child-snatching monster is the stuff of nightmares.
Yikes Level: MOM CAN I SLEEP IN YOUR ROOM TONIGHT
1) Petunia Dursley
HARRY POTTER SERIES
By J. K. Rowling
Petunia Dursely, nee Evans, would make this list for her loving but appalling parenting of her own son, but what secures her the top spot on this list is her neglect of Harry. There’s no excuse to treat a child like that, period, and when you’re spoiling your own son to disgusting excess in the very same house, that compounds the horribleness by the power of hypocrisy. If you can’t put aside old offences when your newly orphaned infant nephew, the child of your only, once-cherished sister arrives at your doorstep, are you even human?
Yikes Level: THE DEVIL HIMSELF WOULD CRY
Honorable Mentions: Queen Gertrude, HAMLET; Lysa Arryn, SONG OF ICE AND FIRE (GAME OF THRONES) SERIES; “Evil Step-Mother”, (looking at you, fairy tales!). A moment of silence please for all the Cinderellas , Snow Whites, and others in all their incarnations who’ve suffered at the hands of the dreaded “ Evil Step-mother”.
Phew! What a list. Stay tuned for next month, when I’ll be putting literature’s dads on blast.
Blogger’s Note: Hopefully I’ve been clear in my writing that this post is meant to be humorous, and not at all suggesting that abuse in any form is funny. The reality is that Mother’s Day isn’t a happy occasion for everyone. Many of us in our human family do suffer at the hands of those that should love and care for them best. Some of us have lost mothers. To all of us, no matter our situation, I hope we all can think of a person or two who have given motherly care to us through the years, no matter what name or label applies.