I want to link to this series of Mother's Day posts over at Books, Personally before it disappears into the obscurity of the archives. The most recent post is about Mrs. Coulter from The Golden Compass, one of my favorite books and is a thoughtful and different take on a character we tend to vilify. Previous posts include a lovely hat-tip to Mrs. Weasley and a look at Coraline's Other Mother. Wonderful posts, cool literary mothers.
I don't believe that I'd ever thought about mothers in literature until reading those posts. I'd be hard-pressed to think of an interesting mom not included in this list. Once named, I can nod along and agree wholeheartedly: Molly's a wonderful mother, Marisa is a weird character who you love-hate-hate throughout a great series and the Other Mother is the reason I couldn't wear a pair of black pants for a good six months because of the black buttons on the cargo pockets.
But are there more of these mothers? I look through lists of my favorite books and few (if any) memorable ones pop up. Mrs. Murry, perhaps, from A Wrinkle in Time - she was always a stable and curious character. Or even Cathy from East of Eden - a terrible mom (pure, delicious evil), but definitely memorable. Other than these flashes here and there, though, most of the mothers in my favorite books have either been nonexistent (dead/missing) or invisible (almost irrelevant to the story). That's a rather weird realization.