As Mother’s Day approaches, I turn my thoughts to my own mother (a wonderful, strong, crazy, brave, and supportive woman who is one of my best friends in the world), my maternal grandmother (a marvelous, spectacularly kind, generous, and caring individual who raised three children without the help of a husband), and my paternal grandmother (a woman I never got the chance to know as well as I would have liked, but who raised the best son and father I could imagine, and who was kind to me at every turn). These women have imparted many lessons to me throughout my life, from how to cook for myself to how to do my laundry to how to balance a checkbook to how to stand up for myself. I am spectacularly grateful to them for everything they have taught me, for the opportunities they have provided me, and for the work they did to get where they are so I can be where I am. They are nothing less than heroines in my eyes.
But as a writer, I have other heroines, too. Other mothers. Other women who have taught me the things that have allowed me to survive, thrive, and create. Those women have mothers and fathers too– Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, Anne McCaffrey, Joss Whedon, Stan Lee, JRR Tolkien, JK Rowling, Theresa Dintino, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Robert Tapert, Adele Geras, Alice O. Howell, Peter Beagle, Naoko Takeuchi, Charles deLint, Tanith Lee, Diana Wynn Jones, and so many others. Their literary parents made them into whole people who imparted powerful things onto my psyche as I grew, and as I continue to grow.
I learned from Xena, from Alanna, from Sailor Moon, from Molly Grue, from Sandriline fa Toren, from Gabrielle, from Aureillia, from Buffy, from Peggy Carter, from Hermione, from dozens of those authors’ and creators’ other children that to be feminine, to want love and romance and friendship and to be soft and gentle– that that is not at odds, does not contradict being strong, being powerful. In reading or watching or listening to their stories, I learned that I could want to be all things at all times and not just be being foolish or greedy or having dreams of grandeur– that we are all, at once, each character we have consumed and adored, and that to be human, and to be a woman, is no small, single thing. We are not caricatures made to fill niches in people’s minds, to fit people’s impressions– I am not the clever witch, or the robust warrior woman, or the rotund comforter, or the gentle motherer, or the wild artist, or the dedicated girlfriend, or the crybaby, or the fierce defender of the helpless, or the emotional wreck and social disaster, or the brilliant writer recluse, or the crafty artist, or the generous hostess, or the cheerful magical girl– I am all these things at once, shifting between them like the moon, and I gain nothing by trying to be any single one thing for anyone. I gain everything by acknowledging that every one of these women, from my real mothers to my fictional ones, lives on in me every moment that I survive, whether I am being strong, having a period of weakness, creating something, failing at something, or trying to become something new.
So, in recognition of Mother’s Day, I thank all of them– my mother, my grandmothers, the literary parents of my fictional mothers, and my fictional mothers themselves. I hope I can do justice to your vast wealth of being.