Mother’s Day is upon us, and that means it’s time to give thanks for the wonderful mothers and mother figures in our lives. Here at Bookish, we love our off-the-page moms (Hi, Susi and Susie!) but we also have learned a lot from literary mothers in our favorite books. Whether we’re being told not to use our wands (the struggle is real), or learning how to look for the hint of decay in Dutch paintings, we don’t know what we’d do without these literary ladies.
The mother: Caroline “Ma” Ingalls
The quote: “This earthly life is a battle… If it isn’t one thing to contend with, it’s another. It always has been so, and it always will be. The sooner you make up your mind to that, the better off you are, and the more thankful for your pleasures.”
The lesson: Struggling is part of life, and you’ll be happier if you accept that.
The mother: Molly Weasley
The quote: “FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE! THERE WAS NO NEED — I’VE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS — JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE ALLOWED TO USE MAGIC NOW, YOU DON’T HAVE TO WHIP YOUR WANDS OUT FOR EVERY TINY LITTLE THING!”
The lesson: Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.
The mother: Suyuan Woo
The quote: “Because you must [keep trying]. This is not hope. Not reason. This is your fate. This is your life, what you must do… You must think for yourself, what you must do. If someone tells you, then you are not trying.”
The lesson: Never give up.
The mother: Marmee March
The quote: “If you feel your value lies in being merely decorative, I fear that someday you might find yourself believing that’s all that you really are. Time erodes all such beauty. But what it cannot diminish is the wonderful workings of your mind: your humor, your kindness, and your moral courage. These are the things I cherish so in you.”
The lesson: Beauty fades, but character lasts.
The mother: Mrs. Murry
The quote: “No, Meg, but people are more than just the way they look.”
The lesson: Don’t judge a book by its cover.
The mother: Sophie Portnoy
The quote: “Tell him you’re sorry. Give him a kiss. A kiss from you would change the world.”
The lesson: Sometimes a good apology and a little affection go a long way.
The mother: Hattie Shepherd
The quote: “Some things you can’t apologize for, you just have to try to get around them. For your own sake too, so you can have a little peace.”
The lesson: Sometimes moving on is more important than apologizing.
The mother: Mrs. Bennet
The quote: “I often think… that there is nothing so bad as parting with one’s friends. One seems so forlorn without them.”
The lesson: Keep your friends close.
The mother: Mrs. Decker
The quote: “Well, the Dutch invented the microscope… They were jewelers, grinders of lenses. They want it all as detailed as possible because even the tiniest things mean something. Whenever you see flies or insects in a still life—a wilted petal, a black spot on the apple—the painter is giving you a secret message. He’s telling you that living things don’t last—it’s all temporary. Death in life. That’s why they’re called natures mortes. Maybe you don’t see it at first with all the beauty and bloom, the little speck of rot. But if you look closer—there it is.”
The lesson: Nothing lasts forever.