As you all are well aware, I have a very close relationship with my Mom. I’d like to say that I’m half as cool and wonderful as she is, but I know that’s certainly not the case. I’d also like to sing you all of her praises and let you in on all of our plethora of inside jokes and weird nicknames, but I think your eyes would start to glaze over and you’d be tempted to stab your computer screen with a pen just to make me stop… Because I made the decision to go to school out of state (and not just out of state, but on the other side of the country), I’ve pretty much spent the last four years REALLY missing my Mom. (I would also argue that one of the reasons why Carlin and I become close friends is because we both missed our moms so much.) We talk on the phone every day, often multiple times a day, and every now and then she hits me up with a really awesome Mommy Package that is stuffed with wonderful things and smells like home. I actually just got a package from her yesterday, filled to the brim with my winter clothes and a few little presents. It’s become a little bit of a tradition that I make her a new Mix CD every few months, but this time she made one for me. And it was an absolutely perfect mix of funny and sweet songs.
I can’t really explain why we have this relationship, though. Anyone will tell you that my mom is extremely warm and welcoming, more than I could probably ever be. I also think that our closeness is the result of me being very shy and not having the best of friends as I was growing up. We pretty much like all of the same things (except sweet pickles--gross, Mom!). Not to mention that my mom is just an awesome person in general, so of course I wanted to spend a lot of time with her. I got really teary eyed when I first heard Taylor Swift’s The Best Day and saw the video, because it reminded me of our relationship so much. Particularly:
I'm thirteen now and don't know how my friends could be so mean I come home crying and you hold me tight and grab the keys And we drive and drive until we found a town far enough away And we talk and window shop 'til I've forgotten all their names
I don't know who I'm gonna talk to now at school But I know I'm laughing on the car ride home with you Don't know how long it's gonna take to feel okay But I know I had the best day with you today
You can tell by watching Taylor’s videos and reading her interviews that she and her Mom also have a very close relationship. Some of my best memories are the ones I have of my mom and I just cruising around in the car, talking and listening to our favorite songs after a particularly bad day. There's a part of me that's always wondered, too, if maybe a lack of stable friendships is what ultimately leads to a very close relationship with your mom.
I know you’re more likely to hear about celebrities and read about characters who don’t have great relationships with one or both parents (Lindsay Lohan, anyone?)… but man, I want more books about GOOD parents, particularly good MOMS.
I’ve been rewatching some of my favorite Gilmore Girls episodes, and it just strikes me that these mother/daughter books shouldn’t be so few and far between in YA. You can still create plenty of juicy conflict in a relationship like Lorelai and Rory’s, as seven seasons of the show demonstrated. (Granted, the last two seasons were a little rough…) Both Lorelais are amazing and play a crucial role in the other's development and growth. That's more real to me than any token or background parent.
I mean, am I not seeing this relationship explored because I’ve been too focused on Fantasy and not enough contemporary fiction? Is it more prevalent in Adult fiction than it is in Young Adult fiction? Is it because most authors/editors shy away from getting the parent too much face time in the book, so as to focus more on the teen and their friends? There was a discussion a few weeks back about absent/abusive/neglectful parents in YA fiction, and I know I’m guilty of pulling a Disney and either killing my characters’ parents off or leaving them behind entirely. Granted, I write Fantasy and it’s often the case in the genre that the hero(ine) needs to leave his family and security behind to complete his/her heroic journey. I suppose it’s just that many YA novels function as coming-of-age stories, and the same kind of absence is required before the main character can go out and become who they’re meant to be… but is that really true to life? Or is true to life too boring?
Anyway, let me know if you know of any good YA Mother/Daughter stories! I’m very curious to see if I’ve just missed them, or if there actually is a gap...
Edited to Add: Let's not forget Mrs. Weasley, who is, perhaps, one of the greatest mothers of all time--and, get this, actually acts like a real mother!