Friday, May 8, 2009

In Honor Of Mother's Day...

This weekend is Mother's Day, a holiday which I always took somewhat for granted as a kid. My mother wasn't the warm, cookie-baking, bandaid-applying hugger that I saw on old black and white sitcoms reruns. Instead, she worked twelve hours a day, leaving the house well before I awoke for school and often returning home in the middle of a take-out dinner, when all I really felt like doing was watch Must See TV. After all, there, I found mothers who were always around. Some kids have two mommies; some have step-moms; some have adopted ones: I had some sort of weird combination of all of those things.

Lorelai Gilmore (Gilmore Girls) may have been more like a big sister to her teenage daughter, Rory, than a mother in more situations than not, but that was the beauty of their relationship. Close in age, but closer in interests and personality, Rory and Lorelai shared everything with each other, including discussions about their dating lives, which might be awkward for most girls...but for these girls, it was the norm. Rory even dedicated her high school valedictorian speech to her mother, the woman who she credited for making her who she was on that day, proving her respect ran really deep.

Thelma Harper (Mama's Family) had a slightly more strained relationship with her daughter Eunice than the Gilmores. Thelma was smart and sharp-tongued, and every bit as combative and antagonistic as her daughter. When they got together-- whether in therapy or over a seemingly simple board game-- the result was often strained but always hilarious. In the end, though, the women were fiercely loyal to each other, bonding and connecting over butting heads with the various other relatives Thelma took in...who were both women's biggest complaints.

When Lisa Landry (Sister, Sister)'s daughter Tia meets her long-lost identical twin in a random clothing store in the mall, she goes above and beyond for her daughter's happiness by agreeing to uproot her own life and move in with her sister's twin and her father. Thereby she becomes the adoptive mother to both girls, even though her own actions are often more impulsive and reckless than either of her "charges." Lisa's carefree and breezy attitude allows her to bond easily with the girls over everything from clothes to boys.

On The Nanny Fran is the only mother figure to Maggie, Brighton, and Gracie long before she actually marries their father and officially adopts them. However, it is not just her relationship with these three prep school children that was touching and relatable, but it was her relationship with her own mother (and grandma Yetta!) that hit the closest to home (at least for me). Sylvia and Fran butted heads over the fact that Fran was still single and her eating habits, but it always came from a place of love...loud, nasal love. It was a way to spend afternoons with my own mother and grandmother even when neither one of them could physically be in the apartment with me.

Okay, so Liz Lemon (30 Rock)'s adoption evaluation didn't go so well (technicalities!), but for years she has been a surrogate, if somewhat unconventional, mother figure to her lead actress Jenna Maroney. She has done everything to make Jenna feel special-- including calling into radio shows in the middle of the night when Jenna was a guest star and even making fake awards for her to win. And in turn, Jenna has...well, she pointed out that Liz was too good for Dennis Duffy that one time. So this is one TV mother-daughter relationship that is a bit more one-sided than others, but that doesn't make it any less special!

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