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By Midge Lyndee
Book Review 

Funny Mothers

The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment

 

May 11, 2024



May is the month we focus on flowers and mothers. Flowers can be tended in gardens or found growing free on hillsides and in unexpected places like cracks in the sidewalk. Though flowers look delicate blowing in the breeze, they are made of hearty stuff and endure with great strength whatever life throws at them. The same can be said for mothers.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that mothers are the backbone of society, civilization and life as we know it. We owe our very existence to a mother. Nine months of sharing the intimacies of growth and survival, with birth itself not necessarily easy. After birth, it's a mixed bag. I was one of the lucky ones, with a great mom. I also had a second loving mother in my neighbor next door, who loved me as her own. Then there was a slew of aunts, two grandmas and a few older cousins in the mix, all ready to lead me by their example whether their advice, directions and commands were warranted or welcomed. I believe they truly meant well.

While looking randomly at comedy movies that were extracted from books, I realized there were a few funny mothers out there. I also realized that the spectrum between traditional and wacky mothers was wide. Did you know that "Mrs. Doubtfire" of Robin Williams fame started within the book titled "Madame Doubtfire" by Anne Fine?

Published just five years before the movie premiered, it was overpowered by the brilliance of a comedic actor who took the script to a whole new level. The actual story, set in Britain, has the father character, Daniel, speaking with a Scottish accent as he takes his place caring for his own children while wearing women's clothing. The book focuses more on the children's welfare, as the bickering parents are quite useless. Mrs. Doubtfire is forced to see his own children and their needs as the only good thing to have come from their marriage. The children were a precious gift. He experiences this through surrogate motherhood with a good bit of laughter and some deep soul searching. In the end, the children survive divorce and so do the parents.

"Fiddler on the Roof" both a musical and a book written by Joseph Stein in 1971, is another example of entertaining mothers. Adapted from a series of stories by Sholem Aleichem, written in Yiddish between 1894 and 1914, the story centers around the father Tevia and how he feels about his daughters growing up. But it is the mothers and matchmaker who direct the three girls as they find their way through to love, happiness, marriage and eventually their own motherhoods. Set in Imperial Russia around 1905, the story reflects the never ending cycle of life. In the end, no matter what the mothers of the world say, the choices of caving or surging forward remain in our own hands.

The movie "Freaky Friday" with Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan in 2003 and an earlier version with Jodie Foster in 1976, is an adaptation from Mary Rodgers' best selling fantasy novel published in 1972. Focusing on the angst between mothers and teen daughters, Anabelle and her mother change places for the day and all the comedic laughs are well earned both on the screen and within the pages. As most often happens, the stories from book to movie have different slants and laughs. What is consistent is the learning curve and the humor. Seeing life from the perspective of others is priceless. Laughter can be one of the best avenues toward reconciling two opposite points of view.

The movie "Clueless" was actually inspired by the Jane Austin novel "Emma." They both have precocious young women who take on the role of mothering their friends by giving advice. We can debate whether all the mother voices in our lives are grounded in wisdom and worthy to be followed. But I think the point is that nurturing is found in abundance from many directions as we grow up facing decisions big and small day after day. As Mother's Day is upon us, contemplate that people who mother us in life are our gifts. They keep us on our toes, help us to define ourselves by pushing us all the time to see who we truly are. Bless the mothers this Mother's Day, especially the ones who make us laugh. Gift them lots of flowers.

Good Books.

Good reading.

*Midge Lyn'dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.

 
 

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