Friday, August 7, 2009

Gotta love them moms!

by Sharon Lathan

Moms must be on the brain these days. I know that I have been thinking constantly about mine. Primarily that is because she has been so ill lately, prompting our entire family to travel from far away reaches of the US to converge on where she lives. The spontaneous family reunion was wonderful for many reason, but mostly because it focused on my mom.

I could write an entire book on my mother. Almost all of it good! Seriously, she is a wonderful person who has been a guiding force in my life. She is a good woman who often single-handedly raised us kids, has always shown us love and support no matter what we do, displays strength and humor through the trials of life, and is immeasurably proud of her family. Yet my mom and I are very different in many of our beliefs. We have journeyed down dissimilar pathways. And I do not always agree with her. But these trivialities do not matter. Or rather, the fact that we are unalike in many respects augments my love and appreciation for her.

You see, I have learned by watching some of the mistakes she made and did not make the same ones. I know the numerous positive traits she possesses and the hundreds of correct decisions she made, and then applied them to my life. But I think most of all I have seen how my mom, and my entire family, embraces our diversity. We love unconditionally and with great passion. And the best part is that it comes naturally to all of us through my mom.

Perhaps it is this acceptance and understanding of my mom with all her quirks and shortcomings amid the love that gave me compassion for Mrs. Bennet. In Jane Austen’s novel, Mrs. Bennet is the flighty, ridiculous, rather irritating mother of Lizzy Bennet. Man, is she fun! Literary essays have been written and wild debates launched about this one character with dozens of takes on her motivations. The BBC adaptation went for the over-the-top Mrs. Bennet that was borderline shrewish and absolutely unhinged. The comic Mrs. Bennet. Joe Wright’s 2005 movie went for a silly Mrs. Bennet as well, but one who was cunning and loving in her single-minded concentrate to get her daughters married. I like that Mrs. Bennet. Partly that may be due to Brenda Blethyn’s portrayal, I will admit. But when I did my own research and reading, I really felt sorry for Mrs. Bennet. The sheer magnitude of successfully marrying five girls of very limited dowry in an age when being hitched to a man was the ONLY way to survive, while also living with the reality that her own husband could soon die leaving her utterly destitute would naturally crack a woman! To top it off, she had to manage a household and the very important task of finding mates while dealing with a husband who was disinterested, unhelpful, and frankly incompetent. Don’t get me wrong, I like Mr. Bennet too and have my sympathies for him, but he definitely had his problems!

In Loving Mr. Darcy: Journeys Beyond Pemberley, all of the Bennets make an appearance. Of course Mrs. Bennet was fun to write! I kept her silly and obsessed with marrying the remaining Bennet daughters, but did nothing mean to her character. Maybe I just love moms too much to be cruel. LOL! Or maybe I have historic sympathy for her plight. And certainly there are many more characters in Austen’s novel, as well as those I created, to center my attention and storyline on. Whatever the case, Mrs. Bennet is given some latitude. Here is a small excerpt to enjoy from my second volume in The Darcy Saga – release date September 1!! When you are done reading, tell me about your favorite mom characters.

“Dr. Darcy, pardon me, but what did you mean by Dr. Penaflor raised with courtly manners?” Mrs. Bennet asked, a keen glint in her eyes.

“Raul Penaflor, Mrs. Bennet, is the third son of a Spanish Duke and his mother is one of many royal sisters to King Ferdinand. It is all rather a jumble of intermarriage intrigue that exhausts me, frankly.”

Mrs. Bennet’s eyes had opened widely and she was peering at Kitty and Dr. Penaflor as they completed their dance with unveiled calculation. Lizzy coughed a laugh, turning slightly to hide her face into Darcy’s sleeve as Mrs. Bennet continued. “How very interesting! Has he a grand inheritance then? Or perhaps a family income?”

Dr. Darcy smiled innocently at Mrs. Bennet. “They have not disowned him, Mrs. Bennet, if that information profits you. Raja, however, is apathetic regarding his lineage and rank. I tease and call him ‘raja,’ which is prince in Hindi, yet he is indifferent. Healing is all that truly matters to him.”

Mrs. Bennet was obviously saddened at the news and chose to ignore Dr. Penaflor thereafter.


  1. Sharon, I sympathized with you recently with your mom's illness. My mom broke her hip in February and we had a tough few months, but she rallied and is now living on her own again, something the doctors said would not happen. I looked at one doctor when he told me she would need to live in a facility and said, "You don't know my mom." She is stubborn and determined.

    Mrs. Bennett has gotten a bit of a rough ride in movies, hasn't she? I agree... what a task she had before her!

  2. Glad your mom is doing better, Sharon!

    I absolutely loved the Mrs. Bennett in the BBC version. She makes me laugh every time. Great character and I'm glad to know she makes an appearance in your story. I KNOW she had to be fun to write!

  3. I'm so glad that your mother is doing better, Sharon. I hope she continues to recover and does great. :)Really a nice picture of you with your mom. Thanks for sharing!!

  4. Hope your mom continues to improve, Sharon!

  5. Sharon, you know how to tug our heartstrings! You and your mom look beautiful! Thanks for sharing that lovely picture.

    Great news about your Mom, too, Donna.

    Don't think I'm crazy but I always loved Nellie's mom on The Little House on the Prairie tv series. She was just so much fun to watch and her entire world revolved around her daughter. What fun she was.


  6. Like you I've often sympathized with the silly, ambitious, slightly-common Mrs. Bennet. It's easy to sneer at her scheming, and overlook the fact that if she fails, her daughters face unrelieved destition--or worse.

    One wishes she had more finesse, if only so that she could be better appreciated by those who SHOULD be assisting her.

    Like you I also treasure the gift of my mother. She has been gone many years and yet I still depend on the wisdom, strength, and love she gave me. I miss her still.

    Thanks for letting us share a bit of your mom.

  7. I love mom characters. They say so much about a character. I am going to have to check out your books.

  8. Good morning everyone! Thanks for the comments and for allowing me to indulge my love-of-mom needs. I so appreciate the thoughts and prayers. She is getting a bit better each day, so we are very thankful.

    Amelia, I am so glad you brought up the mom on LHOTP! I loved that show and I did love Nellie's mom. Can't remember the characters name - Was it Mildred or something like that? She was so funny and over-the-top. Very much like Mrs. Bennet!

    Donna, so glad your mom proved them wrong! These older folks can be so tough when they put their wills to working for them.

    Cheryl, the BBC Mrs. Bennet grated on my nerves, but she was hysterical. I am sure it is hard for the writers not to play up her character. Joe Wright toned her down, and I do love that, but it was probably a struggle not to make her crazy fun. LOL!

    Thanks Terry. Mom looked very good that day. It can be a challenge to get a photo of someone while they are sick. But she was beautiful to me, and a trooper to not fuss about having no makeup on!

    Thanks Marie. I know the well wishes from so many places have worked some magic on the situation.

  9. Welcome, Heather, and thanks! I hope you like what you read. :)

    You know, MM, one of the things that struck me about Mrs. Bennet is that even with all her scheming and desperation to get her daughters married at apparently any cost, she dismisses Mr. Darcy. The richest man to probably ever step foot in their small town is immediately forgotten and kept out of her radar because she (like everyone) did not like his arrogance. I find that fascinating! And very telling. A bad woman with only wealth as her motivation would have zeroed in on him no matter what. But she didn't. I can only interpret that as affection for her daughters' and concern for their happiness beyond just getting a rich hubby.

  10. Ah, Sharon - sooo glad it was a fun family reunion!

    My mom is only 22 years older than I am, so I'm hoping she's around for a long time!

  11. I hope so too, Judi! It happens to all of us eventually - watching our parents age - but it sure isn't fun. Tell you mom to stay fit and eat her Wheaties. :)

  12. Sharon~

    I'm so glad to hear that your mother is doing better and that you had a nice family reunion. Love the picture!

  13. There's no one like a Mom. My Mom's oceans away in England and I really feel bad when she's ill. The phone's no substitute. But she's just booked tickets to come see us again at Christmas! All's right with the world - well, with some of it anyway.